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Why does Bubba Watson rub people the wrong way? The list keeps getting longer

By Dave Kindred

loop-bubba-watson-kindred-518.jpgLOUISVILLE, Ky. -- The fullest and truest measure of Rory McIlroy's serenity in this time of his ascendance is that he walked five hours in the company of Bubba Watson and didn't hear a thing.

"No, look, I've complained after a lot of shots before and everyone out here moans about something," McIlroy said. "It's just part of it . . . I've been guilty of it before, and a lot of players on tour have done the same thing. But it didn't affect me today, no."

We have heard Tiger f-bombing, and that's one thing, and now we have heard Bubba f-bombing, and that's another thing.

The first item on Bubba's personal website appears under the words, "Who is Bubba Watson." It reports: "Christian. Loves Jesus and loves sharing his faith."

So after the f-bomb episode in Friday's second round of the PGA Championship, I got to wondering which biblical character Bubba may have had in mind.

You think Noah? All that rain.

Or Job? All that suffering.

Wait. Noah and Job existed even before Old Tom Morris. So they never went through Bubba's version of a living hell.

He had to play with raindrops on his driver's face. We all know that is Satan's work, for surely the prince of darkness diverted the raindrops from all other players and caused them to settle only on Bubba's sticks. Raindrops everywhere, all morning, beginning at 6 o'clock and falling even through Bubba's tee time at 8:35. For hours, raindrops kept falling on Bubba's haircut, causing, methinks, reverberations in the vast empty spaces beneath.

Small wonder he felt so damned put-upon.

The poor soul has to hit golf balls for a living. A 35-year-old grown man from the panhandle of Florida could be making a decent living at long-haul trucking. Instead, this torture. Country clubs, chartered jets, chauffeured Mercedes, million-dollar paychecks. And, sometimes, if you can believe it, he has to do it in the rain. To protect himself from the rain, he once held an umbrella and asked his caddie, Ted Scott, to set his ball on a tee.

After a bad drive early in the round, Bubba said to Scott, and television's boom mikes sent it across America, "It don't matter what I do, man. It don't matter. It's f*cking horsesh*t."

Maybe Noah said something like that in about the 37th day of that storm, and maybe Job expressed himself colorfully after lightning killed his livestock. But some readers of the Bible took to Twitter immediately to say they could not find those words in either the New or the Old Testament. Those twitterers were moved to append hashtags such as: "#quityerbitchin," and "#helpbubbajebus."

It's only fair to point out, by the way, that Bubba had birdied his first two holes of the round and was at three under par for the tournament going to his ninth hole, the par-5 18th at Valhalla Golf Club. He was then three shots behind McIlroy, the leader. But after McIlroy rolled in a 31-foot putt for an eagle, Bubba missed a three-footer for par. He bogeyed three of the next six holes, wound up with a 72 and now, at even par, is nine shots down. So maybe he had a competitor's good reason to be upset. After his round, Bubba walked past waiting media members, disappeared into the off-limits caddie hospitality room, and left there by a subterranean route that threw most of us off the trail. Only Jason Sobel, who writes for Golfchannel.com, tracked him down. Not frustrated, Bubba told Sobel. "I feel great," he said.

At worst, this is prima donna horsesh*t. At best, it's Bubba being Bubba. At least afterward Watson acknowledged his poor form with a mea culpa via Twitter.

You may remember his trip to the French Open three years ago. There he complained about the thousands of fans wanting to take his picture as he played. The gall of those Gaulists. He also didn't get Paris.

"I don't know the names of all the things," he said, "the big tower, Eiffel Tower, an arch, whatever I rode around in a circle [the Arc de Triumphe]. And then what's that -- it starts with an 'L' -- Louvre, something like that, one of those."

Last season on tour, when he dumped a shot into water and cost himself a victory, he threw the caddie Scott under the bus, right there in front of the TV cameras, the boom mikes again catching him in a Bubbableat.

"Water," he said. "It's in the water. That club. So you're telling me that's the right yardage?"

A Google search identifies Bubba as "embarrassing and disrespectful," "petulant" and given to "whining," "pouting" and "baby-boohooing." The kindest of observers calls him "amusingly foolish."

Even before Friday's travails, Bubba had found reason to complain here.

During Tuesday's practice round, the PGA of America asked players to compete in its revived long-drive contest.

Padraig Harrington did a Happy Gilmore run-and-hit-it thing. Great fun.

The big blond John Daly showed up in Loudmouth pants seemingly spray-painted with every pastel ever conceived, both the man and the pants happily hallucinatory.  

But Bubba, one of the game's longest hitters, wanted nothing to do with it.

"I'm here to play golf, not to hit it far," he said. "Just kind of weird to me. I'm here to win a championship, I'm not here to goof around."

So he hit an iron off the tee.

And so some of us were well pleased two days later when all that rain fell only on Bubba's head.

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News & Tours

Bold prediction: Why a hockey beard will win the PGA

By Mike Stachura

loop-pga-trophy-300.jpgThe question today class is, “What is the average between Mark Brooks and Tiger Woods?” If you can figure out that one, you’ll have a leg up on who to pick to win the year’s final major, the PGA Championship at Valhalla Golf Club.

The question is meaningful, obviously, because Brooks and Woods are the two players to have won the PGA title when the event was played previously at Valhalla (1996 and 2000). Now, some rightly might argue the average of Woods and Brooks could easily be determined to be Kenny Perry or even Bob May, but neither of those answers, while plausibly correct, are helpful to our purposes. I suppose it makes some sense even to suggest that the average between Woods and Brooks is Anthony Kim, the hero of the U.S. team during its victory at the 2008 Ryder Cup, played at Valhalla. But that’s not going to get us the answer we’re after either (although it spawns a whole series of other questions, doesn’t it, like what is the average of an injured thumb, a sore elbow and a strained achilles? Don’t know, but it looks like a diamond-studded belt buckle that doesn’t exactly fasten anymore.)

But I digress. Back to our original postulate, namely that the way to figure out who’s winning this week at Valhalla is to determine the average of the 1996 Mark Brooks with the 2000 Tiger Woods. It’s a flawed concept, certainly, but then who would have predicted John Daly would win the PGA Championship? Y.E. Yang? Or, well, Mark Brooks? We all know predictions for golf’s major championships are like eyeballing the 20-scoop Vermonster at a Ben & Jerry’s: A pointless, but entertaining, distraction that if pursued to its final conclusion usually makes you out to be, well, horribly bad at predicting what might be possible. In short, senseless or without sense.

So here’s what we’re going to do. Basically, I’m going to attempt a variation of the process I’ve used in the three previous majors this year. Never mind that all of those previous attempts have produced choices that did not, in fact, win and, in fact, made almost no sense: Jordan Spieth at the Masters (T-2, impressive), Bill Haas at the U.S. Open (T-35, meh) Adam Scott at the British Open (T-5, but really more a backdoor contender).

Nevertheless, let’s look at Brooks’ statistics and Woods’ numbers heading into their victories in 1996 and 2000. Specifically, wins, driving distance, driving accuracy, greens in regulation and putting. The average of the averages should lead us to today’s average of Mark Brooks and Tiger Woods. Brooks won nothing important and Tiger was in the midst of the greatest stretch of golf in human history. They both hit a lot of fairways and greens, Woods putted great, Brooks was somewhat below average, and Tiger was obviously long, while Brooks, well, wasn’t. (Interesting sidenote: Brooks actually won a major championship while averaging 263 yards off the tee for the year. You know who averages 263 yards off the tee this year on the PGA Tour? No one.)

(P.S.: Mark Brooks and Tiger Woods have 10 letters in their names. So if form holds that means that Ian Poulter, Justin Rose, Matt Kuchar, Ross Fisher, Nick Watney, Luke Donald, Jonas Blixt, Shane Lowry, Marc Warren and Boo Weekley might have a chance. This is just in case my actual choice doesn’t pan out.)

Again, I digress. The calculations for this year's crop of PGA Championship contenders showed several players who came close to the magic number. (My calculations show the magic number to be 92.003, but that’s probably as relevant as the NCAA’s passing efficiency rating, which for some reason can reach as high as 175.62). Continuing: Henrik Stenson, Martin Kaymer, Zach Johnson, Angel Cabrera, Thomas Bjorn, Keegan Bradley, Justin Rose, Jim Furyk and Charl Schwartzel all were close to that mark, and Miguel Angel Jimenez was very close. (By the way, Rory McIlroy was way over the number, for what it's worth, but not as high as Adam Scott, Phil Mickelson or Tiger Woods. But it's not about accumulating the highest average, it's about matching the average of Mark Brooks and Tiger Woods. Because that makes sense.)

graham1.jpgThe man on the number, the man who will win the PGA Championship, is ...

Graham DeLaet.

Look at his numbers: He drives it over 300 yards, he hits 63 percent of the fairways, and he’s hitting almost 71 percent of the greens. He doesn't putt great, but apparently that’s not going to matter, especially since it didn’t for  Brooks. He’s got the feel of a Rich Beem, or maybe an Al Geiberger. I could see a Wayne Grady vibe, too, or perhaps a Bobby Nichols sort of feel. It makes no sense, but the PGA Championship clearly has that club in its historical bag. (Shaun Micheel, anyone?)

So by my calculations, the average of Brooks and Woods is a Canadian with a hockey beard who played his college golf in Idaho and is currently on IV treatments for the flu. Yeah, that makes perfect sense. A Mark Brooks kind of sense.

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News & Tours

The 5 worst decisions in PGA Championship history

By E. Michael Johnson

LOUISVILLE -- The great shots in any tournament's history tend to be the memory makers, but everyone loves a good train wreck, too -- and the PGA Championship has seen its share of doozies. However, not all the missteps have been of the shotmaking variety. Whether brought about by forgetfulness, loose lips, too much bravado or a complete lack of attention to detail, some of the biggest gaffes in the championship's dossier have short-stopped several major dreams. 

The Mystery of the Missing Cup
loop-wanamaker-trophy-300.jpgThe greatest run in PGA Championship history belongs to Walter Hagen, who captured four straight championships from 1924 through 1927. In fact, he won the Wanamaker Trophy so often he treated it as if it were one of his own possessions. After winning in 1925, Hagen returned to New York and promptly made a critical error in judgment as he handed the trophy to a cab driver with instructions to deliver it to his hotel. It never arrived. When Hagen won in 1926 and 1927, no one noticed its absence. But after Hagen lost in the 1928 quarterfinals to Leo Diegel and had to turn the trophy over to its new owner, he confessed he had lost it. The PGA bought another cup as a replacement. It wasn't until two years later that an unmarked case in a Detroit manufacturing plant that made golf clubs bearing Hagen's name was opened. In it lay the missing trophy.

If you don't have anything nice to say …
In the 1949 PGA Championship at Virginia's Hermitage C.C., Jim Ferrier was enjoying a 2-up lead through 20 holes on Sam Snead in their 36-hole semifinal match. Problem was, he was enjoying it a little too much. After Snead's putt for a halve on the 20th hole fell short, Ferrier unwisely cracked, "Sam, the object of the game is to get the ball in the hole." The ill-timed remark put a charge in Snead. The Slammer holed a 60-yard wedge on the next hole, unnerving Ferrier so much that he dumped his tee shot in the water on the 22nd hole. His lead gone, Ferrier struggled the rest of the way, eventually losing 3 and 2. Snead won the title the next day.

The Snowman That Wouldn't Melt
Standing three under par in the middle of the third fairway during the final round of the 1987 PGA Championship at Florida's steamy PGA National, Seve Ballesteros appeared to be a good bet to pick up his first PGA title. Coming up short on his approach to the par 5, Ballesteros was faced with a delicate approach to a tight pin position. Deciding to go for the birdie, he got too cute with the shot and dumped it in the sand. As it turned out, that was only the beginning of his problems. The Spaniard then skulled his sand shot over the green and into a lake. After a drop, Ballesteros chipped onto the green and eventually holed out for a triple-bogey 8. The snowman started Ballesteros toward a final-round 78.

loop-pga-worst-decisions-perry-518.jpgBad TV
Kenny Perry lost the 1996 PGA Championship at Valhalla C.C. because he played the first playoff hole like someone who had, well, spent more than a half-an-hour in a TV booth. Upon finishing his round, Perry (above) visited CBS's broadcast team beside the 18th green and watched the action unfold -- a surprise move considering the number of players with a chance to catch him (Steve Elkington, Vijay Singh and Mark Brooks). Told by commentators Jim Nantz and Ken Venturi that he was free to go hit balls, Perry decided to stay. After Brooks made an up-and-down birdie to tie, Perry mistakenly thought he had time to hit some warm-up shots, but instead was ushered straight to the tee of the par-5 18th where he put his tee shot in deep grass on the left and never recovered. Brooks birdied for the win and Perry -- one of the game's best never to win a major -- was left to wonder what might have been. "I thought I would have time," Perry said. "I misjudged that. Maybe I let my mind wander."

Reading required
Making bogey on the 72nd hole to fall into a three-way tie with Bubba Watson and Martin Kaymer wasn't the worst thing that happened to Dustin Johnson at the 2010 PGA Championship at Whistling Straits. Failing to read a piece of paper with 97 words on it proved to be a much more devastating decision. Those words informed players that there were some 1,200 bunkers on the course and that, "All areas of the course that were designed and built as sand bunkers will be played as bunkers (hazards), whether or not they have been raked." When Johnson, not realizing he was in a bunker on the 18th hole, grounded his club, it resulted in a one-shot penalty, knocking him out of the playoff. "Perhaps I should have looked at the rules sheet a little harder," said Johnson. Probably so.

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News & Tours

The PGA Championship Long Drive contest separates players who get it from those who don't

By Geoff Shackelford

LOUISVILLE -- The PGA of America really, really tried to help make it as painless as possible. When it brought back the Long Drive contest as a fun way to liven up an otherwise boring major championship Tuesday, the organization structured the event to be uber-convenient.

PGA officials set up shop at the 10th hole so players would likely be warmed up. They picked a driver hole. They picked Tuesday, removed enough from the actual start of the championship so as not to interfere with any final practice preparations. They gave everyone just one shot, in order to not hold up play. They threw in a charitable component in lieu of prize money. And they didn't sell the rights to television, making this strictly a fun thing for fans and players.

At least, players with a sense of fun.

loop-pga-long-drive-sign-518.jpgIt comes as no shock that the fun-loving group of Rickie Fowler, Keegan Bradley, Phil Mickelson and Brendan Steele embraced the challenge, playing to the fans, swinging out of their shoes and landing atop the standings midway through the day. Bradley went first and ripped a 326-yarder on the special Samsung-powered monitor letting fans know distances measured by the PGA Tour's Shotlink system, which makes its PGA Championship debut this week. Mickelson, egged on by Bradley, swung hard but just missed the landing area.

Then Fowler got up, took a harder-than-normal swing and edged Bradley by two yards. Fowler played it cool until his leading 328-yard drive was posted, then gave the crowd a tasteful Muscle Beach pose. He led until Gary Woodland knocked one 330.

Tom Watson's playing partners Brandt Snedeker, Russell Henley and Jimmy Walker each hit their drives, then started walking before their 64-year-old playing partner had hit. Watson looked incredulously at the crowd as if to say, "these kids have no respect." More fun for the folks on hand.

Then there were the point missers. Bubba Watson, who complained about the Long Drive last week, hit an iron off the tee as his name was being announced. Pat Perez, one of the last in the field and a long bomber when he wants to be, walked up to the tee and whispered to his playing partners, looking like he was not excited about the Long Drive. Perez then took a normal swing and never acknowledged the assembled crowd.

And then there was the Mechanic. Miguel Angel Jimenez, the most interesting 50-year-old in the world, hit a nice 284-yarder with a harder-than-normal swing. He turned to the crowd and with his trademark stogie in hand, pronounced, "You may not have seen the longest drive today, but you saw the best drive today." And let out a hearty giggle as the crowd ate it up.

Some guys get it, some do not. That's the beauty of the Long Drive's return to the PGA Championship.

Photo: Getty Images

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News & Tours

Fans once again can pick players' poison at the PGA Championship

By Mike Stachura

A year ago when the PGA of America offered fans the opportunity to choose the hole location at Oak Hill's 15th green for the final round of the PGA Championship, it ushered in a new era of fan interaction in tournament golf. It also gave a chance for the public to confound the best golfers in the world.

loop-pga-valhalla-16-hole-location-518.jpgThe PGA of America is doing it again this year at Valhalla, offering fans four choices on the brutish par-4 16th (above).

Voting runs through Aug. 9 at picktheholechallenge.pga.com. And if the early trend holds, fans seem to want to test the best under pressure. The current top choice is the diabolical back-left location.

Here's a PGA of America video highlighting the four choices, with commentary from Jack Nicklaus, who designed Valhalla, and Kerry Haigh, the PGA of America's course set-up guru.


Photo: Gary Kellner/The PGA of America via Getty Images

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A year removed from thoughts of suicide, Ken Green is in a better place emotionally -- and physically

By Bill Fields

BENTON HARBOR, Mich. -- Ken Green is approaching two anniversaries. Five years ago next month, his recreational vehicle crashed, killing his brother, girlfriend and beloved dog and injuring his lower right leg so badly it had to be amputated. A year ago, Green was still plagued by such severe nerve pain in the limb that he contemplated suicide before another surgery last June - his 13th procedure -- finally lessened the discomfort.

"I can honestly tell you, I probably wouldn't have been here," Green, 55, said to a couple of reporters after the first round of the Senior PGA Championship. "I'm not going to say I had a plan and I was going to do x, y or z, but I was really losing. They say everyone comes to that wall. I was reaching that point of collapse."

loop-ken-green-518.jpgThe procedure, performed by Dr. Ivica Duci at Georgetown University Hospital, turned Green's life around. "I'm in half the pain I was in last year," Green said. "That last surgery has really made life livable. When I say I'm in half the amount of pain, if you guys [had] this, you'd probably be screaming, [but] you learn to live with what you have to. I'm psyched to be in half the amount of pain."

Disappointingly for Green, he hasn't had much success gaining sponsor's exemptions into Champions Tour events in an attempt to "tell his story" and inspire others with disabilities. He said he's 0-for-12 in his latest attempts, but got a spot at Harbor Shores as a former United States Ryder Cup team member. The undulating Jack Nicklaus design was a tough challenge for Green, who opened with a nine-over 80.

"I heard the greens were off the charts. I didn't know Jack also did the fairways a litle bumpy," Green said. "For your average two-legged person, maybe they're not [that difficult], but for the one-legged yo-yo that I am, these fairways are nasty. It's discouraging. The one thing I didn't want to do is embarrass me or golf. I know it's not, but in my brain I feel like it is."

While Green, a five-time PGA Tour winner, used to play wearing colorful shoes to match his name, his personality now comes through with green tape wrapped around his prosthetic. "When you see me wearing the all-green shoes, you'll know I consider myself good again," he said. "That's the motivation I'm throwing out for myself."

Green was going to meet Thursday night with a boy suffering from brain cancer, to give him a pep talk, to tell him to keep fighting as Green has tried to do. What happened on that Mississippi highway never leaves him though. "That expression that time heals all wounds, to this point, is a crock," he said. "I still think everyday about everybody I've lost."

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News & Tours

If the PGA Championship were held overseas, where would it go?

By Luke Kerr-Dineen

The PGA Championship has an identity crisis. We get it. But if the PGA of America has something to say about it (which it does), it won't have one for much longer.

In Ron Sirak's piece in the most recent issue of Golf World, he reports the PGA of America is exploring the possibility of holding the PGA Championship overseas. You can read the full piece here.

blog-pga-overseas-480.jpg
It sounds like a pretty interesting idea, especially considering four of its last six winners have been from overseas, so we decided to run through a few places that could feasibly host a PGA Championship in the future.

The Favorites

South Korea
The 2002 soccer World Cup, which was a joint South Korea-Japan bid, was a roaring success, so why not hold a PGA Championship there? Aside from South Korea being a strategic ally of the United States (which helps if the PGA decides it wants to play a bigger role in the global political sphere), the country has the infrastructure to host a large-scale event, and boasts the first-ever Asian male major championship winner -- 2009 PGA Champion Y.E. Yang.

China
Should the PGA decide on bringing its major to Asia, the other obvious choice is China. Its golfers may have experienced limited success on the PGA Tour so far, but with growing interest in the sport in a country with more than 1.3 billion people, a major may ignite what could soon be a golfing superpower.


Continental Europe
Once upon a time, when professional golfers only came from the UK and America, it made sense for majors to stay within the two countries. But now, with Continental Europe boasting half of the members of the most recent European Ryder Cup, the 2013 FedEx Cup Champion (Henrik Stenson) and three former World No. 1s (Martin Kaymer, Bernhard Langer and Seve Ballesteros), it's only fair to bring a major to mainland Europe.

South Africa
Only twice has the PGA Championship been won by a South African and both times it was by the same player, Gary Player. Nevertheless, a golf-strong country like South Africa, which has hosted a Presidents Cup and has given the game Player, Els, Loche and Goosen, deserves a major of its own -- as long as there are no vuvuzelas.


Australia
When Tiger Woods set the record for most consecutive weeks at World No. 1, who did he overtake? That's right, an Australian: Greg Norman. Australians have combined to win 10 majors and would make a good host for one of the game's biggest contests. The time difference may be difficult for U.S. viewers, but a major Down Under would allow to PGA to move out of the shadow of the other three majors, to a more distinct spot on the calendar.


Two Outsiders

Canada
Taking a major overseas is a big commitment, so Canada may be an appealing option should the PGA decide to ease into it. The country already boasts a major winner in Mike Weir and once hosted a Presidents Cup.

India
Another outsider, but with India fast emerging as an economic superpower, bringing a major to a country with 1.2 billion people could grow the game exponentially. Security and lack of infrastructure, though, could both pose major issues.

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News & Tours

PGA of America places fate of world's best golfers in hands of sadistic fans

By Alex Myers

The PGA Championship is the year's fourth major, both in schedule and in the minds of the players. But this year it will become the first major to have true fan involvement.

Related: How to make the PGA Championship cooler

Not that it should cause too much buzz, but fans will have a chance to vote on the final-round hole location for Oak Hill's par-3 15th hole. The fan voting will be hosted by Jack Nicklaus, who won his fifth and final PGA Championship at the Rochester, N.Y., course in 1980.

blog-pga-championship-hole.jpg

"The opportunity for fans to take part in the interactive 'PGA Championship Pick the Hole Location Challenge' is part of a new era in engagement that connects golf fans with the Season's Final Major in a fun and dramatic way," said PGA President Ted Bishop. "The PGA of America is delighted to present this innovative opportunity, as we believe this is the first time that consumers have been able to make a direct and significant impact on a global sports arena. We are honored that the legendary Jack Nicklaus will lead fans as their host and teacher in understanding the nuances that the greatest players in golf consider and think about regarding course setup and hole locations -- and the effect their selection will have on the eventual outcome of the 95th PGA Championship."

Fans are encouraged to visit PGA.com from July 23-Aug. 10 in order to vote for one of four possible hole locations on the 181-yard hole during Sunday's final round on Aug. 11 (shown above). Of course, those four have been selected by the PGA of America, meaning devious fans can't just say they want the pin cut one yard over the water hazard that guards the green. A video with Jack Nicklaus goes more in-depth about the four options.

Related: The craziest finishes in PGA Championship history

While this may be aimed at fans, nowhere does it say players are excluded from participating as well. Phil Mickelson was very vocal about a few of Muirfield's pin positions on Thursday of the British Open, which he ultimately won. Always looking for any edge, maybe Lefty will stuff the ballot box for that right-side location. . .

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Video: Incredible shot propels club pro into PGA Championship field

By Alex Myers

Rod Perry may have won the 2013 PGA Professional National Championship, but Rob Labritz undoubtedly provided the tournament's best highlight.

In a playoff for the 20th and final spot given to club pros in the PGA Championship, the Director of Golf at GlenArbor Golf Club in Bedford, N.Y., holed his third shot on the par-4 11th at Sunriver Resort (Ore.) from about 100 yards for an unlikely birdie. Here's the clip:

(h/t to the Metropolitan Golf Association's A.J. Voelpel for uploading the video)

When Labritz tees it up at Oak Hill in August it will be his fourth appearance in the season's fourth major. He missed the cut in 2002 and 2003, but was the only club pro to make the weekend at Whistling Straits in 2010.

The 42-year-old is no stranger to highlight-reel shots. Just last month, he used a final-round hole-in-one to propel himself to a second straight victory in the Polo Golf Met PGA Head Pro Championship.

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News & Tours

McGinley's selection as Ryder Cup captain a natural one for Europe

By John Huggan

Abu Dhabi, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES -- After all the talking, all the speculation, all the toing and froing, all the other names in the Ryder Cup frame, it took the European Tour's tournament committee only an hour to decide that Paul McGinley was the man they wanted to lead Old World against New at Gleneagles next year.

Five men were considered: Sandy Lyle, Colin Montgomerie, Miguel Angel Jimenez, Paul Lawrie and McGinley.

"But we are 100 percent behind this captain," said Thomas Bjorn, chairman of the 15-strong committee. "It was obvious very early that a consensus was forming. We had all listened to the players on tour and it was obvious who they wanted to represent them. In the end, it was a unanimous decision and we are all 100 percent behind him."

blog-paul-mcginley-0115.jpg

Photo by Getty Images

Certainly, McGinley was pleased with the outcome. He arrived on stage for the late night press conference held in the Regal Ballroom inside the St. Regis hotel here with the widest of smiles across his expressive face. And the first thing he did was reach across and fondly caress the famous gold trophy, one that Europe has won in seven of the last nine encounters with the United States.

Related: Recent U.S. Ryder Cup captains

"I'm thrilled," he said. "It's a great honor to be chosen to lead the cream of the crop from what is arguably the strongest European Tour in history. I'm humbled to be sitting here as Ryder Cup captain and I'm looking forward to the opportunity to go up against one of my golfing heroes in Tom Watson."

Certainly, it was obvious that the 46-year old Dubliner had the support of the vast majority amongst the tour's rank-and-file. So if the committee members took any account of that level of feeling -- and they did -- there was only ever going to be one winner.

Perhaps even more importantly, McGinley had the public backing of world No. 1 Rory McIlroy and three other key members of the 2012 team -- Ian Poulter, Justin Rose and Luke Donald. Throw in the fact that Irishmen McIlroy, Padraig Harrington, Shane Lowery and Peter Lawrie all appeared during the new skipper's press conference and it is clear that Europe has perhaps never before had a more universally-popular leader.

"Common sense prevailed," tweeted the world No. 1. "Paul McGinley 2014 European Ryder Cup captain. Couldn't be happier for him. Roll on Gleneagles."

"I stand by what I said earlier this week," continued McIlroy. "And it would be great to see Darren Clarke get the job in 2016. I played under Paul in the Seve Trophy and had such a good time. He made us all feel so comfortable. He's the best captain I've ever played under."

Such an unprovoked recommendation did not go unnoticed by McGinley, who was noticeably and sensibly silent throughout the convoluted and sometimes near-farcical build-up to the committee's decision. "It's amazing what you can learn when you listen and don't talk," he said with a smile. "Besides, the players were speaking for me so there was no need for me to say anything. But I will say that Rory is in good shape for a pick if he doesn't make the team."

Cue yet another grin as wide as Galway Bay.

Related: How Tom Watson became the next U.S. captain

Three times a Ryder Cup player -- three times on the winning side -- McGinley memorably holed the winning putt at The Belfry in 2002 and twice served as vice-captain in the biennial contest, as well as twice led the Great Britain & Ireland side against the Continent of Europe in the Seve Trophy. It was there that he developed the reputation for thoroughness and attention to detail that undoubtedly contributed most to his selection.

Still, with only four European Tour victories on his resume -- he and Padraig Harrington also won the World Cup for Ireland in 1997 -- he does at first glance have the look of a diminutive David against the golfing Goliath that is the eight-time major champion, Watson. And yes, he is surely the least-distinguished player to land the role since John Jacobs in1981. But don't be fooled. McGinley was ultimately the right man for the job --ask almost anyone on the European Tour and they'll tell you so.

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