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Congrats to Gary Woodland for winning our country's open championship.  I'm sure that he had to take a few deep breaths hitting those shots with two time champ, Brooks Koepka closing in on him.  Shots like hitting the wedge while on the green at 17 and the 3-wood up the hill at the par 5, 14th hole, were serious nerve testers.  I couldn't have been the only one watching and saying, he can't be trying this right now, can he?!?!  When you execute, you can make any decision look good.  I think the biggest take away was that Pebble Beach played extremely easy.  These were some of the lowest scores of any U.S. Open.  The USGA was probably not thrilled that it was damp and windless through the weekend.  The benign conditions caused records to fall.  Victor Hovland was -4, which topped Jack Nicklaus' -3 record of the lowest amateur score at the U.S. Open.  The players must be pretty happy after years of complaining about the tournament being tough and unfair.  I'm interested to see how the USGA treats the setup for next year. We'll see if Winged Foot plays easier or more challenging than it did back in 2006.  I'm also interested to see if a familiar track is just what Phil Mickelson needs to take the trophy home.  I'm already getting excited for it and it's a year away, but first, we have the Open Championship left on the docket.  We will see you at Royal Portrush.

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It's been a few days now and I'm still a bit down about Arnold Palmer's passing.  I think everyone in the golf community probably feels the same.  The King brought so much to golf and humanity.  He was my personal favorite, so I might be biased, but I think he was the greatest ambassador of golf and arguably the greatest of all sports.  He was a great player and humanitarian.  He won a U.S. Am, had 7 major victories and 62 PGA Tour wins.  He was great in the Ryder Cup as a player and captain, and playing captain.  He was such a friendly person that it seems like everyone has a story of how he talked to them like he was a close friend.  That's pretty amazing when you think of how many people Arnie came across through his 87 years.  He was in the Coast Guard and an avid pilot.  He started a children's hospital that has saved countless lives.  He left his fingerprint on many golf courses as a designer and was so humble that you would never think he did all of this.  Did I mention that he had his own army and a drink named after him.  He was such an influence that he basically made wearing pink cool.  It seemed like there was nothing he couldn't do or person that he couldn't reach.  Even in his passing, he will still be helping families and their children through his hospital.  Arnold Palmer was a great golfer, but probably a better humanitarian, philanthropist and person.  Arnie will surely be missed!

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It doesn't seem like that long since we were talking about the PGA Championship and we are already on the verge of the Olympic games starting.  In the mean time, Jim Furyk shot the lowest score in PGA Tour history.  He shot 58 and the first thing I thought when he finished was that he left strokes out there.  Jim could have easily shot 56 with a few near misses coming in.  It was really something special, especially when you think of all the great players to ever play the tour and the amount of rounds ever played.

 It's debatable which was more compelling, but the PGA Championship was quite the display too. The wire to wire victory by Jimmy Walker seemed fairly easy, but we can all speculate how difficult it is to keep your cool during a late charge by Jason Day.  Walker seemed fully aware of the eagle made but still executed to win this major.  That caps off a year of four new major champions.  This just shows the depth in golf today, which makes me think that the Olympics could go to just about any team.

Parody seems to be the name of the game after the Tiger Woods era.  For this reason, I'm excited to watch the Olympics this year, that and oh yeah, it's been 112 years.  But, with that amount of time, I think they should have got it right.  The IOC dropped the ball.  The format is hardly the team event that may have caused some additional excitement.  They have many different options to choose from, alternate shot, best ball or make it a scramble, but not a regular four day stroke play tournament.  This could be why so many top players have declined.  I hope they make some adjustments in the future.  The part that they seemed to get right is the layout of the course.  I really like how Gil Hanse setup the finishing holes.  The drive-able par-4, shortish par-3 and reachable par-5.  That sounds like gold to me!  I hope everyone enjoys the games and let's go USA!

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The PGA Championship at Baltusrol is here already?  I feel like I'm still catching my breath from the duel at The Open.  Mickelson and Stenson put on a show with their ball striking.  Stenson's putter was just a bit hotter that day.  I find it tough to anticipate the finish this weekend living up to that epic heavy weight showdown, but it does finish on two par 5's.  I don't know about you but I love when they play a place and everything about it screams hit the big stick.  They even have a long drive competition going on today.   I just watched Rory pipe one 340.  That should get it done, unless Bubba or DJ  can find the fairway.  This kind of tournament seems to have it's own kind of fireworks, I mean who wants to see the longest guys on the planet hitting 3 iron when they could be ripping the big dog.  Ahh...it's good to be back in America, right!

With that being said, I predict the straightest of the long ball hitters will come out on top this week.    I think the total driving stat will be a key for this championship.  Therefore, I think the winner will be Rory Mcilroy.  He is tied for 4th in total driving and hits his irons high enough to stop them on these greens.  There was plenty of rain on Monday but it looks like it will be dry the rest of the week.  The greens should be getting hard and fast going into the weekend.  I also like Keegan Bradley for the same reason.  Day, Spieth and DJ should be in the mix.  I also like Kuchar.  He is always solid and feel like it may be over due for him to win a major.  For my underdog dark horse, I'll take William McGirt as he drives it straight and long, while playing well as of late.

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Is it already that time to watch some old style golf?  I don't know about you but I love waking up early and already having a major championship underway.  It reminds me of playing early at a couple courses in Massachusetts, Myopia Hunt Club and Essex County Club.  They've both held major championships and are designed for Scottish links style play.  The weather can be very similar as well.  It can be so much fun or a nightmare.  That depends on how you use the wind and terrain.  From my personal experience, most of the time those elements are using you and probably laughing about it.  Deep perils bunkers, gorse bushes and thick fescue.  Just when I thought golf was getting too easy, it starts raining sideways with a thirty mile per hour wind.  It must be the masochist in all of us to endure these conditions just to pull-off a 40 yard putt, but it somehow seems worthwhile when you play all the slopes just right.  Or, you like the relate-ability of watching the best in the world make scores in the double digits on a hole.   I think that everyone likes to see them shoot twenty under par at the John Deer, but it might be more fun to see them struggle to shoot par and not be able to get out of a bunker.  Let the fun begin, right!

As I normally do, I will set a few predictions.  First, the obvious, Dustin Johnson is about as hot as the sun (or Paulina) right now. He is coming off of back to back victories and I foresee him in the top five.  He could pass Jason Day this week for the world number one ranking.  I think Day will also finish top five and hold on to his ranking.  Rory has been playing well as of late, with a win at the Scottish Open.  I think he will finish in the top 5 as well.  My pick to win is Adam Scott.  He has finished 10th, 5th, T3 and 2nd in his past four Open appearances.   He won a couple times this season with the shorter non-anchored putter and has a major under his belt.  If you put yourself in a good position enough times, it is bound to go your way eventually.  With that being said, there are a couple other guys that I would watch out for.  Ernie, Mickelson and Westwood have been playing okay as of late.  The three all finished top 5 at Royal Troon in 2004.  They are playing together too.  Sergio has been in the hunt but just can't seem to get over the hump and I expect that to continue.  Louis seems to be always in the mix in the majors.  I think the most under rated candidate that might shake things up would but Brandon Grace.  He might not be as off the radar as Todd Hamilton was in 2004, but I could see him breaking through.  Speaking of a dark horse, mine is Daniel Summerhays.  He is a long shot, but would be a big pay day with those odds.

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Happy Birthday America!  We hope you all have a safe and fun 4th of July.  Keep it in the short grass.

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We are on the eve of our nations championship.  The U.S. Open is going to be contested at Oakmont Country Club.  This is a time when I'm typically trying to figure out who will beat the course and everyone else.  The formula at Oakmont, just like any other Open, is to keep it in the fairway, as the rough is treacherous.  Then, I thought about the speed of the greens and undulation.  The player will have to be a very good putter.  I finally thought, how did I not think about all those famous bunkers.  He will have to have a bunker and iron game.  That is when I realized thlat Oakmont is going to be the headliner and probably will win!  

Now, I know that someone will emerge a champion on Sunday, but it will probably be a war of attrition.  I love that it will be extremely difficult even though it isn't the longest course and it barely has any out of bounds or water hazards.   Don't get me wrong, 7,200 yards is a deep track but it plays a bit shorter with the speed of fairways and some of the elevated tee shots.  Some of the shorter holes will be almost drive-able, that should make it fun to watch.  I suspect that rough will be extremely thick around those greens.  The challenge will be in the strategic placement of the golf ball and avoiding those bunkers and rough.  With that being said, I find it hard to pick against Jordan Spieth.  He is great when it comes to strategically plotting and grinding at a course like this.  I think that Phil will be close, as he has seemed to tightened up his golf swing and played well here in the past.  Jason Day has been so good that you know he will finish top 5, probably top 3.  These are the easy picks, I like throwing out a couple dark horses like Lee Westwood to breakthrough.  He hits it well and around a ball strikers course, this could be time to finally get his major.  Sergio is in that same boat.  I am keeping an eye on Rob Oppenheim.  He has qualified for the Open a few times now.  This course reminds me of a couple in Massachusetts.  As a New England native, he should be accustomed to a course like this.

I hope everyone has a Great Fathers day and enjoys the Championship!

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Hi Erik, How are you doing today?


I see that you have a partnership with Donate Life America and Genentech for the "Play through with Erik Compton" campaign, as well as working with Donate Life Texas and LifeGift, how has that been going?

“It's going great! I was happy to participate in the Shell Houston Open Junior Golf Skills Challenge yesterday and Head to Houston Methodist Hospital for the bell ringing ceremony, Texas Children's Hospital and also very excited to head to Nora's Home, a facility offering support while also serving as a home away from home for transplant patients and their families. ”

Seems like you are pretty busy so I will try not to keep you long, but we really appreciate you taking a moment to speak with us and help spread the word.  The numbers are staggering, 122,000 people in the U.S. are waiting for an organ transplant and 13,000 in Texas.  About 22 people die each day waiting.  When I saw that one organ donor can save up to 8 lives, I double checked to make sure that I was a donor as well.  Where is the biggest need and how can we all help?

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Hey Hal, how are you doing today?

“I'm good, I'm good.

We appreciate you coming back and speaking with us a year later, how are you feeling?

“Everything is great, my hips are great and life is good.  You get more used to it after time.  There is a thing called proprioception that is a little thing that is tough to get used to when you do things at a high level, like play golf at a high level.  Living pain free is much more important.”

I'm sure that many people in the golf community could really benefit from using Stryker for their hips.  How's your game now?

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Whistling Straights is a long but very target oriented course.  Visually it's very similar to Chambers Bay, but it has some key differences.  This PGA Championship course could play 200 or more yards longer than the U.S. Open venue.  There is a bit less elevation.  The greens will be in better shape, softer and roll better.  With a beastly par 3, 17th and par 4, 18th, The closing holes should favor the longer hitter as well the rest of the course.  Driving it long and straight is paramount.  Accuracy with mid to long irons will be crucial.  Chances are that the players that putt the best from mid range will win, since it may be tough to have many close birdie putts if they are hitting long irons into many greens. 

After analyzing stats like total driving, proximity to the hole from certain longer yardages and putting from mid range,  The picks are in.

1st Place:  Dustin Johnson - (he will finally get the monkey off his back while getting redemption for the last time he was here)

2nd Place: Justin Rose - (Justin hits his mid irons very well and the rest of his game is solid)

3rd Place:  Jordan Spieth - (he will come close again, but his lack of  serious lengh may catch up to him)

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The U.S. Open is set to start tomorrow at Chambers Bay.  The best players in the world will be in Washington to compete in this prestigious major.  From the initial looks of the course, it seems to be one that will be nearly impossible to score on.  The fairways are hard and fast.  The rough is thick and the course could play astronomically long, especially if the wind kicks up.  Very few of the pros will break par by the end but I do have a few favorites.  In the spirit of our nation's triple crown winner, American Pharoah, I will give you the win place and show.

Win:  Phil Mickelson - By a furlong to complete his career grand slam.  He is long enough and has enough imagination to hit all the shots needed.  He figured out how to win links golf at Muirfield and will replicate that this week.

Place:  Dustin Johnson - Will come close again, but no cigar.  I like his length and previous experience on similar tracks like his T-5 at the PGA Championship at Whistling Straits.  He has also had strong play at the British Open.  Links golf seems to fit Dustin's eye.

Show:  Rory Mcilroy - He's just so solid right now that it is tough to count him out.  I think the greens may trip him up enough to keep him out of the winners circle.

Dark Horse:  Keegan Bradley - If my theory of longer hitters holds true, Keegan wouldn't be one to overlook.  He has won a major but has been fairly silent as of late.  I used to play a lot of links style golf when living in up north and imagine my fellow New Englander has seen his fair share as well.  Keep a eye on him as a long shot bet.

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Congratulations to Rickie Fowler on a shootout type victory at The Players Championship.  Kevin Kisner and Sergio Garcia did their best to win the famous crystal but were out dueled in the playoff.  Rickie was able to win the prestigious tournament with laser like precision.  The changes that Fowler has made to his golf swing have really paid dividends in the last few majors and now at The Players Championship.  Rickie finished 2nd at both the 2014 US. Open and British Open.  This was sandwiched in between a 5th at The Masters and 3rd at the PGA Championship.  Needless to say, this was a great year.  The biggest difference in his game since before 2014 was his swing.  Rickie started working with Butch Harmon and he has worked him into much better positions throughout his swing.  There are a couple keys that jump out to me. 

1) Halfway through the back-swing, the club head is no longer way outside of his hands.  At this point, the toe of the club is now pointing vertical, straight up to the sky, as apposed to parallel to the ground and closed.

2) Three quarters into the Back swing, Rickie would manipulate the club vertically, more steep than most.  He is more on plane now because he is swinging with less forced manipulation and keeping the club closer to a 45% angle throughout the back-swing.

3) The top of the back-swing is less flat and laid off it he used to be.  He is now more vertical at the top and this prevents him from getting stuck to the inside on the downswing.

Rickie Fowler, previously had a very loopy back-swing.  Now that he has made these adjustments and is much more on plane, his scores are dropping from his increased accuracy.  These changes have helped with both his distance control and especially his consistency.  His swing has less forced manipulations and made it a lot easier to square the club head at impact.  This will mean a major in his near future, that's if you don't already consider The Players Championship one.  I suggest that everyone should make a conscious effort to redirect and manipulate the club less.  This will make for a less "around the world" Charles Barkley, jerky swing and you will look more like Rickie does now.

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Who will be in the winners circle at Magnolia Lane?  It's always difficult to predict golf but when you play the same course every year, you can start to see some trends.  The Masters Tournament is played at Augusta National Golf Club and the only thing more consistent than the pimento sandwiches is the course itself.  The course plays almost exactly the same, year in and out.  This could be the reason why multiple players have won more than once .  The player advantages at Augusta are being long off the tee and being able to work the ball, preferably from right to left.  This is why the lefties have been so strong in this major.  It's a bit easier to hold onto the club through the hitting zone and hit a fade than to hit a draw under pressure.  If you couple this with a lot of the holes going right to left, you have the perfect storm for a lefty that hits it high and likes to fade it.  I still like Bubba Watson and Mickelson, though he has not been playing the greatest of late.  Tiger is back, but with this much time off and i can think of many other courses that I'd rather recover from the chipping yips, so it is tough to pick him to win.  Jason Day has done very well at the majors and Augusta National.  I wouldn't be surprised to see him wearing the green jacket, but don't know if he has been sharp enough as of late to translate it into a win.  I predict the back nine on Sunday will be a close one between Rory and Jordan Speith.  They both like the big stage and I am going to give the the edge to Speith. He finished 2nd last year and has been so sharp lately.  I have been high on him for a while and predict that he will breakthrough this weekend, with his first of many major victories.

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Congratulations to J.B. Holmes on this weeks victory!  He won a three way playoff against Jordan Spieth and Johnson Wagner.  The power hitter was not only long, but very accurate off the tee.  J.B. won the Shell Houston Open by hitting each fairway in the playoff, that put a lot of pressure on his opponents.  He hits it so long that he had very manageable shorter irons into the 18th.  His aggressive line down the left side of the fairway afforded him the ability to be a bit more courageous on his second shots to a pin sitting almost in the water.  The other players hit their second shots into either the bunker, right of the green, or front right portion of the green, avoiding the water at all costs.  Wagner three putted from the front right portion of the green to ultimately give Holmes the championship, but this playoff was won off the tee with exceptional positioning.

I think the biggest stories of the week came from the near misses.  Austin Cook had the week of his life.  He went from playing a mini tour event to Monday qualifying for a PGA Tour event, to making the cut, to being paired with Phil Mickelson, to beating him by five shots on Saturday, to almost winning the event and receiving a two year exemption on tour, while stamping a trip to the Masters.  This would have been the first time someone has accomplished this feat since 1986! He wasn't the only one making the best out of his opportunity.  Kelvin Day also Monday qualified and finished tied for 6th at 11 under par.  Wagner went from shooting 87 last week to finishing tied for second place at -16, on a sponsors exemption.  Then, there's Jordan Spieth, the boy wonder.  Jordan is showing unbelievable consistency with a victory and two second place finishes in the last three tournaments.  He has to be one of the favorites going into the Masters. 

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After the second round at the Shell Houston Open, we continue to see outstanding scores.  The soft greens are really allowing the guys to target pins and give putts a good run at the hole.  The cut line finished at -4.  This is one of the lowest of the season on the PGA Tour.  There is a chance that this could end up being the lowest final score of the season as well.  There are a lot of big names within 10 shots of the lead and if the great conditions continue, I expect to see some lead changes and big fireworks coming down the stretch. 

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The Shell Houston Open is off to a hot start.  Just to name a few, players like Mickelson, Garcia, Mahan, Kucher, Els, Rose, Fowler and Spieth are teeing it up at the Golf Course of Houston in Humble, Texas. The big names are out and going low.  This star studded crew that I just mentioned all carded sub-par rounds and most, well into the 60's.  After the first round, they will all be trying to catch Scott Piercy.  He opened with a blistering nine under 63.  Piercy is no stranger to going low in his victories.  Out of his 4 professional wins (2 on the Nationwide Tour), every win was in the double digits and one was 22 under par.  Also, six rounds were at 55 of better.  Scott will be a tough guy to catch, but if there is a field out there that can catch him, it would be this one.  Stay tuned for updates.

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The future of American golf may be saved by this Texas native.  Jordan has now won 2 PGA Tour Tournaments in his first three years on the tour.  He seems poised to really break out after backing up his Championship at the Valspar with a second place finish at the Valero Texas Open.  Spieth has played great on two of the most demanding golf courses on the PGA Tour.  These rounds were were under high winds at long and narrow tracks.  He has the kind of game that would fit into most of the majors.  I wouldn't be surprised to see a victory there this year and many throughout Jordan's career.  After all, he was in the lead on Sunday at the Masters...at twenty years old!  To have this kind of talent at such a young age is remarkable and reminds me of a few players but one that probably started off hotter than any others.  Tiger Woods came out of the gates taking the PGA Tour by storm with multiple victories as well.  Up to this point in Jordan's playing career, he has all of the signs of potentially winning this debate.  He could most certainly beat Tiger right now.  Tiger can barely get through 9 holes without getting injured.  But, when looking at the numbers closer.  Tiger had 7 victories, 3 seconds, and 27 top tens through his first 63 PGA Tour Tournaments.  While Spieth has 2 victories, 6 seconds and 22 top tens through 66 events.  They are very close but I would have to to give the edge to the young Tiger for his ability to convert more of those potential second place finishes into victories.  It looks like Jordan is growing by leaps and bounds now.  If the trend continues on this same pace as compared to Tiger, Spieth could have a few monstrous next few seasons.  The Shell Houston Open is a good prep for the Masters and I would be surprised if this Longhorn doesn't finish top ten this week.  It also looks like Jordan Spieth will be the American carrying on the torch of United States golf, for many years to come.                                                                                

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Are you just breaking the clubs out and a bit rusty after the holiday season?  Or, are you still struggling from last season and need to get back on track?  I have a couple quick tips that will get you back on track.  First, stretch some key areas of your body every time you get out on to the range.  Work on your hamstrings, lower back, torso, arms/shoulders.  Once you are feeling fairly loose, grab a long iron and start by swinging with a half swing and gradually making longer swings until you feel like you are making full swings.  When you have done this a few times, start counting out a tempo of 1-2-3, during the first swing and keep repeating this 1-2-3  during the next few as well (A metronome is great for this drill but it's not necessary).  The main focus is to try and keep your tempo the same on all of these swings while staying loose.  After making 10 swings like this, pull out the range balls and just let them get in the way of your club with this smooth tempo swing.  This drill will increase your consistency of contact, distance and accuracy.  I know this will get you off on the right foot for this season! 

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Golf, in fact, has a long history in the Arizona desert – a longer history than Arizona itself. Determined settlers in the late 1800’s were willing to leave their homelands, friends and families behind – but not their hickory-shafted clubs and gutta-percha balls. By train and wagon they came, hauling all their worldly goods with their golf bags strapped across their backs, in search of turf to call their own. Who can claim the first golf course is up for a debate hotter than a tin roof in Tucson in July, but the Phoenix Country Club dug nine holes in dirt fairways and sand “greens” as early as 1899. The first official golf tournament was held 12 years before Arizona became a state. 

It’s hard to imagine that the same territory that hosted the sharp-spurred, trigger-happy miscreants of the O.K. Corral also saw men in knickerbockers and waistcoats aiming very different kinds of shots. The love of golf, against all odds and all climates, is deeply ingrained in Arizona, and with the advent of irrigation has given birth to extraordinary results. The Fairmont Princess resort is one of them. 

While calling the acres of lush lawn, ponds and pools of The Fairmont Princess and the TPC Scottsdale golf courses a “desert oasis” is an unforgivable cliché, few other words capture what it’s like to find so much beauty (and water) after miles of bone-dry land. Last week, I had the chance to “stay and play” at TPC Scottsdale and the Fairmont Princess – a resort that balances modern, clean lines with desert-inspired décor – for some R&R, golfer-style.

From the moment I stepped onto the complex, I was impressed as much by the looks of the sprawling resort as by the staff’s hospitality. After a tour-by-golf-cart, necessary transportation for exploring the grounds, I attempted to count all the possible activities that could easily fill my days and nights: Three extravagant pools with assorted waterslides, hot tubs, bars, and massaging waterfalls; two well-equipped gyms; function hall rooms for special events; a well-appointed spa; and a world class steak house serving southwestern cuisine (along with a Starbucks and two American-style restaurants). I was also informed that the man-made pond I saw from my balcony was stocked with fish, and a fishing rod could be provided on request. However, like the Arizona settlers before me, I sought only one recreation: Golf. As much golf as I could pack into my brief stay. But, I did look forward to working out the kinks from long hours on the greens under one of those massaging waterfalls.

The sheer amount of greenery on the property is astounding – and the greens today are genuine grass, not the sand of olden days (I can’t imagine what it must have been like to try to putt in what was, essentially, a dressed-up sand trap). In the Arizona desert, water is hard-won, but even during the dust-bowl of 1933-34, in the middle of the Great Depression, there was golf. The Turquoise Valley course near the Mexican border, built in 1936 by the Works Progress Administration, is the oldest continuously operating course in the state. In an early take on the two-for-one deal, golfers could begin their day with 9-holes on the Turquoise Valley course, and finish their game with 9-holes in nearby Warren. There may have been lines for bread during that decade, but that didn’t stop tee-time. A similar course share-program can be found today between the Princess TPC Scottsdale.

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The PGA Championship is already upon us.  It has been a long time since Tiger and Phil were #1, #2 in the world.  Phil just won back to back tournaments, with one of them being the British Open.  Tiger just ran away with a 7 shot victory at The Bridgestone World Golf Championship.  The two biggest stars are playing well at the same time, but who will come out on top at Oak Hill Country Club?  Will we see another first timer take home a major?  I think it is tough to bet against any of these options but someone has to attain the Wanamaker trophy at the end of the weekend.  Out of these three options, my wager would go on Tiger.  This is hardly going out onto a limb but the last time he beat the field by 7 strokes he proceeded to go win the PGA Championship the following week.  I do know that a lot of people would choose the alternate options, but wouldn't it be great for the stars to align and have a finish with them within a shot or two going into the final holes?  In my opinion, that would be as good as it could get on Sunday afternoon!

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