PGA Championship to allow shorts in practice rounds
MEXICO CITY (AP) The PGA Championship in the middle of summer tends to be hot, especially in the South.
A small measure of relief is on the way.
The PGA of America board decided on Tuesday to allow players to wear shorts during the practice round at Quail Hollow in Charlotte, North Carolina, the second full week in August. PGA President Paul Levy announced it to the staff at the Florida headquarters.
The new policy also applies to the Senior PGA Championship, the PGA Professional National Championship and the Assistant PGA Professional Championship.
”Amateurs always ask me about wearing shorts, and I always tell them, `This is my job, my occupation.’ And we lend ourselves to corporate America, which doesn’t go to work in shorts,” Ryder Cup captain Jim Furyk said. ”I like the fact we play in slacks, but it’s a practice round. It is Quail Hollow. It’s going to be hotter than can be. The guys will be happy, and they’ll like it.”
It was just over 20 years ago at Valhalla when a couple of caddies defied regulations by changing into shorts after their players teed off. They were instructed to wear pants. And now the PGA of America is letting the players wear shorts for the practice days.
”If they’re going to let me do it, I’ll do it,” Kevin Chappell said.
The European Tour has allowed players to wear shorts in practice rounds, though it mainly has applied in the Middle East.
”I am not quite the traditionalist where I feel that pants and many of the traditions we adhere to make the game more fun and appealing,” Kevin Kisner said. ”We need to be more lax on our traditional ways.”
As much as Furyk likes playing in slacks, he said he would be wearing shorts in the practice rounds at the PGA Championship.
”I’ll have tan legs by then,” he said.
DEBUT AT THE TOP: Dustin Johnson is the 20th player to reach No. 1 in the world, but only the 19th player to make his debut at No. 1.
Tom Lehman reached No. 1 in 1997 when he tied for fourth at Hilton Head, but then he took a month off. Lehman was No. 1 for only one week, the shortest time of anyone, and when he returned at the Colonial, Greg Norman was back at No. 1.
Only five players have won in their debut at No. 1, most recently Adam Scott at Colonial in 2014. The others were Vijay Singh (Canadian Open), David Duval (BellSouth Classic), Ian Woosnam (Masters) and Norman (World Match Play Championship).
Jordan Spieth is in a class by himself. He is the only player to miss the cut in his debut at No. 1. That was at The Barclays at Plainfield in 2015.
Tiger Woods holds the record with 683 weeks at No. 1 in the world, but in his first tournament as the best in the world, he tied for 43rd at the Buick Classic. That was the week after the 1997 U.S. Open, and the last time Woods played the week after the U.S. Open.
ALTITUDE ADJUSTMENTS: Players must adjust to thin air this week, with altitude at the Chapultepec Golf Club at nearly 7,800 feet.
Jack Nicklaus says it’s just part of the game.
He was talking about the lessons learned from mistakes in major championships when he mentioned the 1963 British Open at Royal Lytham & St. Annes. The PGA Championship at Dallas Athletic Club started five days later.
He went from playing in 50 degrees to 100 degrees. And he went from the small ball (1.62 inches in diameter) in Britain to the ”American ball” (1.68 inches).
”Oh, yeah, really tough to do,” Nicklaus said, rolling his eyes. ”These guys today, they have a ball for everything. It’s ridiculous. It’s crazy. To me, that’s part of golf. It’s learning to adjust to conditions and your equipment and everything else.”
The Open and PGA in consecutive weeks was more about the golf ball.
Nicklaus played Slazenger irons and a small ball at the Open. The next week he was using MacGregor irons and a larger golf ball.
He won the PGA Championship by two shots.
SCOTT’S SCHEDULE: Adam Scott will be planning his schedule a little differently this year, some because of life circumstances.
Instead of commuting the early part of the PGA Tour season from his home in the Bahamas, he is commuting from his home on the Gold Coast in Australia.
”Just this year,” he said. ”My wife being pregnant, we’re trying to avoid all areas that have Zika at these early stages – the Bahamas, and South Florida is even worse. We just can’t be here at the moment.”
His wife is due with their second child toward the end of August.
”I haven’t done it for a long time,” he said of a home base Down Under. ”I’m not the seasoned traveler I once was. I really enjoy being back there, but it’s not sustainable for a career. That’s what I found five or six years ago.”
Scott also has decided to play the week before each of the majors. The Bridgestone Invitational at Firestone was already built into the schedule a week ahead of the PGA Championship. Scott also is playing the Shell Houston Open for the first time since 2007, the Scottish Open ahead of the British Open, and that mean the FedEx St. Jude Classic a week before the U.S. Open.
Asked if it his first time playing the week before the four majors, Scott replied, ”A planned first.”
POULTER’S PUTTERS: Ian Poulter has gone back to the Rife putter he used in 2010. He found it while cleaning out his office during five months away from golf with a foot injury.
”Took it on the putting green and it’s back in the bag,” he said.
The last year he used it, Poulter won the Match Play Championship, rose to a career-best No. 5 in the world, went 3-1 in the Ryder Cup, won in Hong Kong, lost in a playoff at the Dubai World Championship, was runner-up by one shot in Abu Dhabi and finished fourth in the Order of Merit.
So it was a pretty good year.
”We were trying to work that out on the putting green the other day,” Poulter said last week. ”Because through time, I’ve used probably seven or eight putters. Why do they go cold? I don’t know.”
That apparently includes the Odyssey No. 7 putter he had in 2012 at Medinah. You might remember Poulter making five straight birdies that sparked Europe’s comeback in the Ryder Cup.
”There’s no reason why you should take that out of the bag,” he said. ”But it obviously came out for a reason because I felt it had gone cold.”
So it’s the putter and not the player?
”It’s obviously us, isn’t it?” he said. ”But we have to blame somebody, and you might as well blame your putter.”
DIVOTS: The Honda Classic will have a new look next year, at least on television. CBS Sports will televise the event because NBC Sports has the Winter Olympics. … Pat Perez is the latest player to sign an endorsement deal to play PXG clubs. He has been using them since he returned from a shoulder injury. PXG founder Bob Parsons described Perez as ”a guy who doesn’t back down.” … The average age of the eight PGA Tour winners this year is 25.5. … Virginia Derby Grimes has been selected as U.S. Curtis Cup captain for 2018. She played on three Curtis Cup teams and won the 1998 U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur. … Johnson Wagner was elected chairman of the PGA Tour’s Player Advisory Council, meaning he will join the tour’s policy board starting next year.
STAT OF THE WEEK: Six of the eight winners on the PGA Tour this year are in the top 10 of the world ranking.
FINAL WORD: ”A long way.” – Dustin Johnson on how far he hits the ball at nearly 7,800 feet of altitude in Mexico City.