by Gary Van Sickle

A recent text nearly made me jump out of my chair. Luckily, I have the balance of a professional tightrope walker (I’m lying) or I might have had to file an insurance claim (I’m not lying).

The text was the picture of a book, “Payne Stewart’s Last Stand: The Year Golf Changed Forever” (I’m still not lying).

The author is Kevin Robbins, a long-time sportswriter for the Austin American-Statesman in Texas. He called me two years ago to discuss everything I could remember about Payne in 1999, which was embarrassingly little aside from notes and articles I wrote for Sports Illustrated that year.



Players, fans hold keys to slow-play problem
If golf is a game in which integrity demands that players call rules infractions on themselves, why aren't players calling time infractions on themselves as they would for any number of other rules transgressions? (“Holmes’ dawdling brings pace to slow boil,” Feb. 20); (“From the Morning Read inbox,” Feb. 21).

Of course, as soon as one player plays slowly, the rest start to back up. I agree that allowing rangefinders in addition to encouraging self-policing would help tremendously. There are a bevy of volunteers at a tournament whose job it is to scout landmarks and hold some sort of gizmos to accurately gauge distances. Instead, they could be deputized to be timekeepers if relived of those duties.


Committed: Tiger Woods, to the Arnold Palmer Invitational and the Players Championship but not to next week’s Honda Classic, which is played near his home in Jupiter, Fla. Woods cited the PGA Tour’s revised schedule this year, which features the Honda, Palmer and Players events in consecutive weeks, as his reasoning for skipping Honda.



Number of strokes under par that Rory McIlroy stood Thursday after the first round of the WGC Mexico Championship. Starting on the back nine at Chapultepec Golf Club in Mexico City, McIlroy rattled off six birdies and an eagle in his first 13 holes. Tree trouble off the tee at the par-5 sixth hole led to a bogey before he picked up another birdie to shoot 63.



Hawk & Rude: Stricker’s rise, Kuchar’s fall
Co-hosts John Hawkins and Jeff Rude ponder the selection of Steve Stricker as 2020 U.S. Ryder Cup captain, and they review the new movie “Caddieslack,” starring Matthew Kuchar.

In the Grill Room with Bob and Jay
Co-hosts Bob Bubka and Jay Randolph Jr. dissect J.B. Holmes’ victory in the Genesis Open and discuss the WGC Mexico Championship. Also, the Feature Interview welcomes Morning Read founder Alex Miceli.


Fred Couples, a 15-time winner on the PGA Tour and a World Golf Hall of Fame member, will join host David Feherty on Golf Channel’s season premiere of “Feherty,” the network announced. The broadcast will air at 9 p.m. EST Feb. 25, the first of a two-part interview. Part II will air at 9 p.m. EST March 4.


After a one-year hiatus because of recovery efforts related to Hurricane Maria, the PGA Tour’s Puerto Rico Open returned to the island this week. Coco Beach Golf & Country Club in Rio Grande is the site of the 11th Puerto Rico Open, which includes four Puerto Rican golfers: Max Alverio, Jero Esteves, Edward Figueroa and Rafael Campos.


Tagmarshal introduced two pace-of-play devices to its geo-location-based course-management system, the company announced. FastLane Golf offers premium tee times to groups willing to commit to completing rounds in 60 minutes less than the course’s goal time. ExpressGolf is designed to reduce tournament round times to as low as three hours.


Troon announced that it will work with HelmsBriscoe to provide clients with options for meetings, golf outings and other events in non-traditional meeting venues. HelmsBriscoe operates its meetings-procurement business in 55 countries.


Whittle Springs Golf Course, a city-owned facility in Knoxville, Tenn., was recognized as the “No. 4 Most Improved Course in the U.S.” by Golf Advisor in 2018. The course, which dates to 1918, is one of two Knoxville municipal courses managed by Billy Casper Golf. Golf Advisor compiles course ratings from golfers who use the Golf Channel-owned service.


Golftec has opened an instruction and club-fitting center in Boise, Idaho, the company announced. The facility, at 7855 West Emerald St., will offer motion measurement, video analysis and launch monitors to assist in instruction and club-fitting.


Garmany Golf is offering travel incentives for PGA professionals, including a 5-percent commission for group travel to some of golf’s top destinations. In Garmany Golf’s travel program, a PGA professional hosts a welcome party at the first destination.


Membership at Desert Mountain Club in Scottsdale, Ariz., has increased by nearly 15 percent from 2017 to 2018, officials reported. The club added 131 members from 26 states and four nations last year.


February 21-23
Men’s amateur: Gasparilla Invitational

Palma Ceia G&CC, Tampa, Fla.

February 21-24
LPGA: Honda LPGA Thailand

Siam CC (Old Course), Chonburi, Thailand

PGA Tour: Puerto Rico Open

Coco Beach G&CC, Rio Grande, Puerto Rico

PGA/European: WGC Mexico Championship

Chapultepec GC, Mexico City

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