Fred Couples was amazed by his most recent visit to the White House as Presidents Cup captain. And while he said President Barack Obama was in a jovial mood, what impressed Couples the most was the art on the walls.
That's when he let on that he's somewhat of an ''art junkie.''
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''What do I collect? I have California art,'' Couples said. ''I have some, you know, inexpensive expensive. There's some you can buy for 6 grand, some from 150 grand. I like buying one a year. It used to be cars, and now it's a piece of art. I'm almost done.''
He might be running out of space. Couples is trying to sell his home in the Palm Springs, Calif., area, and his other house in Los Angeles is smaller.
U.S. OPEN: Kyle Stanley could have locked up a spot in the U.S. Open if he had tied for second in the Memorial. Instead, he bogeyed the 17th hole as Kevin Chappell birdied the last two holes, and the third-place finish only moved Stanley up to No. 59 in the world ranking – the top 60 as of this coming Sunday night are guaranteed spots.
He narrowly missed out in the 36-hole qualifier Monday. He's not playing this week in Memphis. So all he can do is wait.
The biggest threat to bumping out Stanley is Bernd Wiesberger of Austria, who is playing in the Lyoness Open in his home country and needs to finish about 12th to move past the American. Charles Howell III and Jimmy Walker also could move into the top 60 with top finishes in Memphis.
TOUGH ROUGH: Johnny Miller and Peter Jacobsen miss the days when the U.S. Open was renowned for its long, thick rough.
During an NBC Sports conference call last week for the U.S. Open, Miller said the rough used to be so tough that it put a premium on hitting fairways. USGA Executive Director Mike Davis in 2006 began a concept of graduated rough, making it deeper the further away it was from the fairway. Players have considered that to be a fairest test over the least seven years.
Miller disagreed, saying the U.S. Open became ''more like a PGA Tour event.''
''I think it lost its identity, personally,'' Miller said. ''I don't agree with that one bit. To me, the U.S. Open is supposed to be the ultimate test. ... I just thought like at Torrey (Pines), they set it up like an old Andy Williams with distance. Not that it wasn't a good Open – it was a great Open. But I like the rough, personally.''
Jacobsen recalled watching Hale Irwin in 1974 at Winged Foot, one of the toughest U.S. Opens ever (and one that followed Miller shooting 63 in the final round at Oakmont). Jacobsen said the U.S. Open was about survival, and it was one of the most intimidating events on the PGA Tour schedule.
''You had to drive it in play, get it out of the rough, into the right position where you could get it up and down, and the greens were quick, and hard, and sloping,'' Jacobsen said. ''It was just very difficult. It's really going to be fun for me at Merion to see a return – opefully a return – to that way of golf.''
NICKLAUS HONOR: Jack Nicklaus has been selected for the Ambassador of Golf Award, which is given each year to a person who has promoted golf around the world. He will be honored on the first tee at Firestone Country Club on July 31, the afternoon before the opening round of the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational in Akron, Ohio.
Nicklaus won the 1975 PGA Championship at Firestone, along with the World Series of Golf.
He is the second Nicklaus to receive the award from the Northern Ohio Golf Charities. His wife, Barbara, previously was honored.
''This is certainly a special and meaningful recognition. I feel blessed to be included among such a distinguished list of past recipients, including my wife, because I am certainly Barbara Nicklaus' biggest fan,'' Nicklaus said. ''As Barbara and I look back on our careers and our lives together, we realize and appreciate that golf has contributed to us having a lifetime of fulfillment, enrichment and happiness. But we also felt a responsibility to give back, whenever and wherever we could.''
FOLLOWING THE PROS: Rand Jerris, the senior managing director of public services for the USGA, is trying to dispel the notion that pace-of-play issues in golf are primarily related to recreational players trying to copy tour players, especially on the greens.
A tired argument is that amateurs take too much time reading their putts because that's what they see pros do. Jerris said ongoing research by the USGA shows that player behavior is but a small piece of the pace-of-play puzzle.
That led him to one observation that amateurs don't follow everything they see on TV.
''If we did everything professionals do, there would be no ball marks on the green,'' he said.
Indeed. Next time you're playing golf, see how many people neglect to repair the pitch marks.
DIVOTS: There were 293 three-putts (or more) over four rounds at the Memorial. Davis Love III was the only player at Muirfield Village to make it through 72 holes without a three-putt. ... Paul Goydos returns to competition this week at the St. Jude Classic. Goydos last played at Riviera in February 2012. He is coming back from extensive surgery on his left wrist. ... The LPGA Tour has launched a Spanish language website. The tour has more than 20 players who speak Spanish from countries that include Spain, Mexico, Colombia, Venezuela and Argentina. ... Pebble Beach has broken ground on a new driving range and golf academy, a project that has been 20 years in planning. The project includes 100 additional guest rooms at The Lodge at Pebble Beach and the Inn at Spanish Bay, along with a new 100-room hotel near Spyglass Hill.
STAT OF THE WEEK: Tiger Woods earned $12,896 at the Memorial, his smallest check from finishing a tournament since the 2004 Bay Hill Invitational.
FINAL WORD: ''Let's put it this way. There will be some guys that play the tour to make a living, period. All the good players play the tour to win golf tournaments to be the best player they can.'' – Jack Nicklaus.