PRESS PASS
Joe Logan 
 
Spieth vs. McIlroy: The dawning of a rivalry
Monday, April 13, 2015
By Joe Logan

As much fun as it was watching young Jordan Spieth’s to wire-to-wire win in the Masters, the implications for the future of the game are even more exciting.

 

Golf always benefits from a good rivalry, and now that Tiger Woods vs. Phil Mickelson is winding down after almost two decades, what better time to welcome the dawning of Rory McIlroy vs. Jordan Spieth battling it out for World No. 1 and every major championship title for the next 20 years?

 

Besides being golfing prodigies of the highest order, McIlroy and Spieth are both quite likeable and marketable, even if they are a little white-bread boring for some fans’ tastes.  But so what?

 

Now, if only money, fame and the inevitable temptations that come with both don’t bring them down (see: Woods, Tiger), we could have a good thing going for a while.

 

I don’t know about you, but I’ve already had my fill of Bubba Watson.


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Oh, to be a fly on the wall inside Tiger’s head
Tuesday, April 7, 2015
By Joe Logan

After just watching the Tiger Woods pre-Masters press conference, I was so pumped it was all I could do not to plunk down a few bucks on him to win.

 

Well, as it happens, I’m not a betting man.  I also like to believe that my Mama didn’t raise no fool.

 

By all outward appearances, Tiger has his confidence back.  He said he has been at home "working my ass off" and that his game is back to where it needs to be.  There is also his burning desire to win major title No. 15.

 

On the other hand, I cannot ignore the sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach that reality will rear its ugly head sooner rather than later, during his opening round on Thursday.

 

Even for the one and only Tiger Woods, the Masters is not the place to reappear on the scene after a two-month absence, and not the place to reestablish your golfing supremacy on a track that has only grown increasingly faster.  The expectations, and the pressure, will be suffocating, even for the man with the strongest mind in the game.

 

Oh, to be a fly on the wall inside Tiger’s head right now.  He exudes confidence, because he knows that is what is required.  He smiles, a little nervously if you ask me, because he would never let us see him sweat. 

 

He’s done this before – four times – and he can do it again.  Just ask Tiger.  The question is, is he is trying to convince us or himself?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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Ah, the Masters, the weakest field of the majors
Monday, April 6, 2015
By Joe Logan

I love the Masters as much as the next guy, maybe more.

 

Long ago, I drank – gulped -- the Kool-Aid, before I ever wrote a word about golf for a living.  Even as a kid, I was transfixed by Augusta National and everything about the tournament.

 

Once I started going to the Masters with a notepad and a press pass, nothing changed.  I inhaled the springtime air in Augusta, and the way the Masters signaled the dawning of another golf season.  I soaked up the pomp and circumstance, the corny piano jingle we all associate with the tournament.  I didn’t even roll my eyes at the over-the-top reverence of CBS’s coverage, or the stunning pomposity of the club and its members.

 

Even as a hard-core cynic and sourpuss, when you walk through those gates and make your away around that golf course, all your defenses go right out the window.  No need to apologize.  It happens to everybody.

 

My unabashed love so stipulated, it is hard not to notice that, in point of fact, the Masters always has the suckiest field of any major championship.  This year is no exception.

 

For one thing, the Masters field is by far the smallest, rarely more than 100, usually less, when other majors have 156.  The small field is then diluted by the traditional inclusion of past champions who have utterly zero chance of winning.  Uh, I’m thinking Ben Crenshaw, Sandy Lyle, Mike Weir, Larry Mize, Tom Watson, Ian Woosnam, Bernhard Langer...I could go on.

 

Then, there Augusta National’s traditional and quaint inclusion of a number of amateurs who also have no chance of winning:  the U.S. Amateur champ and runner up, the British Amateur champ, the U.S. Mid-Am champ, the U.S. Publinks champ and, more recently, the Asian-Pacific Amateur champ and the Latin American Amateur champ.

 

In Augusta National’s noble effort to grow the game globally, the field is increasingly full of international players that I’ve never heard of and certainly couldn’t pick out of a line up.  Even if they somehow play their way onto the leaderboard, the guys in the control truck at CBS go into full panic mode.  For ratings purposes, they need Tiger, Phil, Rory, somebody we at least recognize.   They have and will settle for Fred Couples hanging in there on Thursday and Friday.

 

Bottom line, out of this year’s field of 98, there are maybe 30 to 35 guys who have a plausible shot at winning the Masters.  I wish I believed Tiger Woods was among them.

 

Of course, come Sunday afternoon, I, like you, will be glued to the 55-inch high-def window onto the luscious green golfing mecca of Augusta National, even if it comes down to Charley Hoffmann battling Joost Luiten for the green jacket.

 

It’s a sickness, really, for which there is no antidote.  Whaddaya gonna do?

 

 


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Jim Finegan at AT&T at Aronimink GC 
Remembering Jim Finegan
Friday, March 13, 2015
By Joe Logan

The first time I ever met James W. Finegan Sr., was in 1995, while he was still working on his definitive history of golf in Philadelphia, A Centennial Tribute to Golf in Philadelphia.

 

The occasional was a small, annual golf event at the Philadelphia Cricket Club, hosted by our mutual friend, Michael Bamberger, senior golf writer for Sports Illustrated.  I was familiar with Finegan’s name, but I didn’t know him or much about him.  That all changed when we were seated next to each other at the post-round dinner in the Flourtown clubhouse.

 

Nobody could tell a story like Jim Finegan.  Skinny as the shaft of a 1-iron, with a manner of speaking that defies description, when Finegan regaled you with a tale, he was all arms and all superlatives.  That 20-foot putt you made on the 12th was the single finest putt he had ever seen struck by an amateur or a professional. That course he played last month in Ireland was simply superior to anything anyone has designed in the last 100 years, case closed.

 

Finegan could go on and on like that, and he usually did.  In conversation with Finegan, you mostly listened, and happily so.  How could you not?

 

That night at the dinner, as Finegan told me about the book he was writing to commemorate GAP’s 100th anniversary, he mentioned he had been working on it for almost five years.

 

Five years? I couldn’t imagine working on a writing project for five years.

 

By the time his three-inch thick masterwork was published, in 1996, I was the newly-appointed golf writer for The Philadelphia Inquirer.  GAP sent me a copy, which promptly became the single most valuable reference book I have ever owned.  I still refer to it religiously to this day.  Anything or anybody I ever needed to know about having to do Philadelphia golf, Finegan had researched exhaustively and written about with authority, in great detail.  Dense with facts and perspective, I came to wonder how he ever wrote that book in only five years.

 

On the rare occasion that I couldn’t find precisely what I was looking for in Centennial Tribute, I would pick up the phone and call Finegan.  By then, we had become friends.  We would play golf together, meet for lunch, spent 45 minutes at a time on the phone.  Not only was he a bottomless storehouse of information and memories, Finegan was the single most quotable source I have ever known.  The man simply spoke in quotes.

 

He was generous with him time, his expertise and his praise.  How many times did the phone would ring and it would be Finegan?  "Joseph, that piece you had in the Inquirer this morning was simply amazing.  You told me things I did not know.  I don’t know how you do it – and on deadline!"

 

No, Jim, I don’t know how you did it.

 

Jim Finegan was the master.  I was, I am, his student, in awe of his talent and his charm, grateful to have known such a unique and endearing character.

 


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Joe Bausch[3/13/2015 5:37:55 PM]
Thanks for the nice tribute, Joe. I was at his presentation a few months ago on John McDermott. Wonderful.

Dan Jenkins 
Dan Jenkins gets the last laugh
Friday, February 27, 2015
By Joe Logan

Somewhere, Dan Jenkins is having the last laugh.

 

Remember a few weeks ago, when Tiger Woods and his camp were outraged over an obviously, openly fake interview in Golf Digest, purportedly conducted by legendary sportswriter Dan Jenkins? 

 

The column was over-the-top, even if it was hilarious, given the relationship, or lack thereof, between Tiger and Dan.  Many people felt the column was offensive and cruel, unfair to Tiger.  Only the dullest dullards didn’t understand that it was an attempt at satire, plain and simple, especially since the headline was "My (Fake) Interview with Tiger."

 

Well, yesterday, when the Golf Writers Association of America announced this year’s writing awards, Jenkins’ fake interview took top honors in the category of Non-Daily Columns.  Basically, that means magazines.

 

So far, no comment from Tiger.  No comment from Dan either, although I suspect he made no effort to hide a smug grin.

 

Here’s the breakdown of winners from the GWAA:

 

 

2015 GWAA WRITING CONTEST RESULTS

 

The following is a full list of the winners, including honorable mentions.

There were 466 entries in the 2014 contest

 DAILY

 

DAILY COLUMNS – 1, Jim McCabe, Golfweek.com Vet credits Casper for life; 2, Bill Fields, billfields.net, A driver makes another trip; 3, Gary D’Amato, Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, One more round with dad.

 

Honorable mention: Ron Green Jr., Global Golf Post, The great ones find a way; Mike McAllister, PGATOUR.com, Ike’s Tree leaves legacy;  Beth Ann Nichols, golfweek.com, Compton finds Open fame.

 

DAILY NEWS – 1, Bob Harig, ESPN.com, Ryder Cup meeting turns ugly; 2, Ryan Lavner, Golfchannel.com , Kaymer dominates U.S. Open; 3 (tie)  Dave Shedloski, Golfdigest.com  Bubba wins in China; and Mike Stachura, Golfdigest.com, If you’re a fan of integrity.

 

Honorable mention: Michael Bamberger, Golf.com, Johnson suspended after drug test; Ron Borges, Boston Herald, Phil can’t stop Rory’s rise; Randall MellGolfchannel.com , Wie’s scars define her journey.

 

DAILY FEATURES – 1, Helen Ross, PGATOUR.com, Lyle reclaims his life; 2, Ian O’Connor, ESPN.com, The man who gave Compton life; 3, Alan Shipnuck, Golf.com, Team USA needs a change.

 

Honorable mention: John Boyette, Augusta Chronicle, Ike’s Tree rooted in tradition; Teddy Greenstein, Chicago Tribune, Golf is refuge for burn victim; Helen Ross, PGATOUR.com, Rallying around Isaiah. 

 

NON DAILY

NON-DAILY COLUMNS – 1, Dan Jenkins, Golf Digest, My fake interview with Tiger; 2, Jerry Tarde, Golf Digest, Hannigan shook things up; 3,  Alan Shipnuck, Sports Illustrated, The case for Johnny Miller.

 

Honorable mention: Jaime Diaz, Golf World, Bubba as the great liberator; Scott Michaux, Virginia Golfer,  Ryder Cup task force; Jeff Neuman, Met Golfer, The myth of protecting par; Jeff Rude, Golfweek, Bubba strikes again.

 

NON-DAILY NEWS -- 1. Alan Shipnuck, Sports Illustrated, Anthony Kim, MIA; 2, Jim Moriarty, Golf World, Bubba wins 2nd Masters; 3, Adam Schupak, Golfweek, Spieth learns on fast track.

 

Honorable mention: Michael Bamberger, Sports Illustrated, You say you want a revolution; Alan Shipnuck, Sports Illustrated, Wie is happy at last; Ron Sirak, Golf World, Mighty special.

 

NON-DAILY FEATURES -- 1. Ron Whitten, Golf World , How Pinehurst got its groove back; 2. Alan Shipnuck, Sports Illustrated ,Tiger and the drop; 3, Gary Van Sickle, Memorial Tournament Magazine, Matt Kuchar's odyssey.

 

Honorable mention: Michael Bamberger, Sports Illustrated, Legend of Will McKenzie; Tom Callahan, Golf Digest , Watson's last hurrah; Tom Callahan, Golf Digest, Most interesting men in the world.

 

SPECIAL PROJECTS – 1, Alan Shipnuck, Sports Illustrated, Greatest U.S. Open ever; 2, Scott Michaux, Augusta Chronicle, Adam Scott, one for Australia; 3. Mercer Baggs, Alan Tays, Jason Sobel, Ryan Reiterman, Jason Crook, Bailey Mosier, Jack Menta, Jay Coffin, Golfchannel.com, Arnie: man, myth, legend.

Honorable mention – Rex Hoggard, Golfchannel.com, Jarrod Lyle’s remarkable journey; Ron Sirak, Golf Digest, The failed USGA coup; Gene Wojciechowski and Bob Harig, ESPN.com, Miracle or meltdown at Medinah, Sept. 24

 


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Tom Coyne in Ireland 
Tom Coyne’s next book: A Course Called the Kingdom
Wednesday, January 28, 2015
By Joe Logan

Now, where was I before I was interrupted?

 

If you enjoyed A Course Called Ireland,  Philadelphian Tom Coyne’s 2009 memoir about walking the back roads and golf courses of the Emerald Isle, you’ll surely be interested in his latest project.

 

Coyne, who teaches writing at St. Joseph’s University, plans a follow-up book, A Course Called the Kingdom, due out in 2016, from Simon & Schuster.  As the name suggests, this time around Coyne is expanding his golfing expedition to the United Kingdom.   His 57-day sojourn will take him to 83 courses, including all 14 British Open venues in Scotland and England.

 

Coyne, who sets off on April 25, has already begun previewing the trip on his blog, A Simple Game. (He has added two courses to the itinerary since his last blog post).

 

Some of the best parts of A Course Called Ireland didn’t occur during one of Coyne’s rounds but rather as he walked the entire country, from course to course, village to village, pubs and B&Bs.  For this book, the UK is too big to walk.

 

"Not walking, no way," Coyne said in an email.  He plans to blog about his planning and preparations for trip on his own blog, then blog during the trip at Golf.com.

 

Here is Coyne being interviewed about A Course Called Ireland on WHYY’s Radio Times.

 

Here is Coyne and me being interviewed about the 2013 U.S. Open at Merion on Radio Times.

 

Coyne is actually inviting golfers to join him for legs of the trip.  Sounds tempting.

 

Here’s a snippet from Coyne’s latest blog post:

 

 

81 courses

10 flights

7 ferry rides

57 days

Over/under 100 golf balls

Weather, livestock, and member tournaments will likely have their way with this itinerary and prove where the best laid schemes of mice and men go.  But this is the aim and ambition.

 

Now I turn the challenge to you and your itinerant golfing friends.  This map is crowded with plenty of golf; it now needs to be populated with people.  Please check out the map (click on the courses for dates) and plan on joining me for a round or ten. 

 

I will be joined by family in St. Andrews and East Fife where we are dropping anchor for two weeks, but I will need companions for the rest of the way around.  Bad golfers encouraged to come along–they are funnier in print.  I can offer you free golf and immortalizing in the book (after you sign your life away a waiver). 


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Sean O’Hair 
It’s your chance to trash-talk Sean O’Hair
Wednesday, November 12, 2014
By Joe Logan

If you’ve got serious game and you don’t mind putting your money where your mouth is, have I got a golf partner for you: Sean O’Hair.

 

When O’Hair recently sat down with local golf writers, his only two complaints about living in the Philadelphia area are the harsh winters and the lack of peers to practice with and play against.

 

"They need something for better players here," said O’Hair, from Chadds Ford, who is entering his 10th year on the PGA Tour.

 

Even as a kid in Texas and Florida, O’Hair says he never liked spending all day on the range.   He liked to play.   He believes that is how you keep your game sharp and get better.  Looking back, O’Hair believes that one of the best things his estranged dad ever did for him was to drop him off at the golf course every day and let him fend for himself.

 

"It taught you how to compete, it taught you have to be social, it taught you how to be a man," said O’Hair.   "I look around here and it’s tough to get that money game going."

 

It’s hardly a secret around the PGA Tour that some of the fiercest golfing isn’t during the official tournaments; it’s in high-stakes matches during practice rounds on Monday and Tuesday.  Same thing happens during off weeks, when PGA Tour pros are at home in Florida, Georgia, Texas, Arizona and California.

 

It’s hardly a new idea.  As O’Hair pointed out, "Those guys like Snead and Hagen, they didn’t beat balls.  They went out and played for money.  No one does it any more."

 

If you’re a gambler but you’ve got no game, don’t bother applying.  O’Hair really wants your competition, not your money.  He’s got plenty of money.  "I don’t want to play with some chop that’s 20-over," he said.  "I’m sorry, I just don’t.  I don’t feel like looking for golf balls all day."

 

Truth is, O’Hair concedes that he probably has nobody to blame but himself.  Because he didn’t grow up here, he is not particularly plugged into the local amateur or club pro scene.   Plus, he’s got a wife and four kids under the age of 10.

 

My guess is, when word gets out that O’Hair is looking for a game(s), he might be surprised how many amateurs and club pros are willing to throw down, if only to meet him and test themselves against a PGA Tour pro.

 

I asked O’Hair why he doesn’t call Brian Quinn, the golf coach at Temple, about working out with the Owls on occasion.  Temple players have won the last three Philadelphia Opens.

 

"I guess I could," said O’Hair.  "Maybe I just haven’t made the effort.  I played with that one kid from Temple.  He’s really good.  He hits it a feakin’ mile, and he is cocky.  That’s who I want to be around.  I would love to call up a college team and say, "Let’s go play.’"


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