September 26, 2012 - 2:59pm
Posted by:
John Holmes
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Tom Watson and Andy Williams
Tom Watson is one of many high-profile champions of the Andy Williams San Diego Open at Torrey Pines.

The obituaries for Andy Williams in the papers and websites today are rightfully focused on his singing career, but he also played a key role in boosting golf’s popularity in southern California and around the nation.

Back in 1968, Williams agreed to become the celebrity host of the San Diego Open Invitational on the PGA Tour – this was the golden era of celebrity golf events, like the Bing Crosby Pro-Am, the Bob Hope Desert Classic and the Glen Campbell Los Angeles Open. Williams was an avid golfer, and frequently played in the pro-am portion of these celebrity-filled events.

The San Diego Open was founded in 1952, but hop-scotched around southern California for its first 16 years, never really finding a home. Williams came aboard in 1968 -- the same year that the tournament moved to Torrey Pines, and the combination of celebrity clout and first-class venue proved to be a real game-changer. The event has remained at Torrey ever since, and become one of the most successful on the PGA Tour – and no doubt that success helped to pave the way for Torrey to be awarded the 2008 U.S. Open, won by Tiger Woods in his memorable 18-hole playoff over Rocco Mediate.

Williams served as celebrity host of the San Diego Open for 21 years – only the Hope and Crosby affiliations with their events lasted longer. Williams eventually shared title billing with sponsors like Isuzu and Shearson Lehman Brothers, and his name finally disappeared from the title in 1989. The tournament, of course, is now known as the Farmers Insurance Open.

Williams died Tuesday at age 84 in Branson, Mo., after battling bladder cancer. He’s most famous for his rendition of “Moon River,” and the venue he owned in Branson is called the Moon River Theater. He amassed 18 gold records and a pair of platinum records, and was a mainstay in Las Vegas for several decades. He hosted “The Andy Williams Show” on NBC from 1962 to 1971, and starred in a number of other variety shows over the years. He also headlined several Christmas specials, and hosted the Grammy Awards a record 13 times.


September 25, 2012 - 11:22am
Posted by:
Steve Eubanks
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Billy Casper
Steve Eubanks
Hall of Famer Billy Casper spent Tuesday morning in the Ryder Cup Pro Shop signing his new book, "The Big Three and Me." Fans lined up to meet the legend and buy his memoirs.


This is the week where golf’s red-carpet legends turn out in droves. The first sighting came on Tuesday morning in the Ryder Cup Pro Shop when Billy Casper showed up to sign his new book, “The Big Three and Me.” 

Holder of 51 PGA Tour titles, three majors, 5 Vardon Trophies, and holder of a Ryder Cup record 23½ total points in eight appearances, Casper is as spry and engaging as ever at age 81. His book chronicles an extraordinary Hall of Fame career, and the interaction he had with golf’s Big Three: Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player. As a contemporary, Casper is the oft forgotten member of that foursome, but his career is just as compelling.

He is also a devout Mormon. And his book also chronicles his faith journey and the challenges of balancing family, church, and an athletic career. 

“This was the perfect time to tell this story,” he said. “All the right pieces had to be in place, and they finally are.” 

Fans lined up to the pro shop door to meet Casper and buy his memoirs. It couldn’t happen to a nicer guy. 


September 24, 2012 - 1:22am
Posted by:
John Holmes
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Ping Golf founder Karsten Solheim
Karsten Solheim's original homemade putter became the foundation of a golf equipment empire that is still innovating.

Yeah, yeah, I know Monday Night Football is on, but you really oughta tune in to CNBC tonight for "How I Made My Millions" – or at least fire up the DVR. This episode is all about Karsten Solheim and his creation of Ping Golf.

"How I Made My Millions," says CNBC, goes behind the curtain to reveal how everyday people have taken ordinary ideas and turned them into extraordinary businesses. The program, CNBC explains, puts the American Dream on display and shows you that it's alive and well if you have the heart, the desire and the know-how to make it big.

The Ping Golf episode, entitled "Stroke of Genius," focuses on Solheim, who back in the 1950s was an engineer who thought he could play better golf if he improved his putter, so he built one himself. His original Ping putter, named for the sound it made when it hit the ball, became the foundation of a golf equipment empire that is now run by his son John and is still innovating all these years later.

"How I Made My Millions" premieres at 9:00 p.m. ET, and reruns at midnight ET. You can see a 70-second teaser on YouTube.

September 21, 2012 - 2:31pm
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
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On behalf of the 2012 United States Ryder Cup Team, The PGA of America and the PGA Tournament Corporation will direct $2.6 million to designated charities and growth of the game junior golf initiatives as a way to leverage the Ryder Cup and also provide outreach support to communities nationwide.
All 12 members of the U.S. Team, along with Captain Davis Love III are able to designate $100,000 to the charity of their choice.  Another $100,000 will be directed to help launch and 
support PGA junior golf programs designed to introduce children to the game; provide unique approaches to play the game; and deliver world class coaching and mentoring to advanced juniors who may not otherwise have the financial means to play.  
Today, the donations made to charities by the players was made public. To read about the charities that will benefit, click here.
September 21, 2012 - 11:09am
Posted by: News Services
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ATLANTA -- U.S. Kids Golf is excited to announce the first-ever recipients of the National Player of the Year Award. The award, which will be presented during the TOUR Championship in Atlanta, GA, on Saturday, September 22, 2012, is sponsored by FedEx, which has provided special invitations for the winners and their families to attend the event at East Lake Golf Club.

Winners of the U.S. Kids Golf National Players of the Year Award for the 2012 season are Yujeong Son, 11, of Norman, Okla., and Michael Thorbjornsen, 10, of Wellesley, Mass.

To read more, click here.

September 20, 2012 - 7:51pm
Posted by:
John Holmes
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Rory McIlroy's house

Rory McIlroy has put his house in Northern Ireland up for sale, likely to help pave the way for him to relocate more permanently to the United States.

McIlroy’s house in Moneyreagh, a suburb in the hills above Belfast, has been listed for £2 million (about $2.5 million), according to a story by the Press Association, Britain’s newswire.

"I would say interest in the house will be extremely good, both locally and potentially worldwide," Michael Rodgers, a partner in the real estate firm handling the sale, told the Press Association. "We will have to wait and see."

The five-bedroom house, situated on 14 acres, also includes a gym in an adjoining refurbished stone barn as well as an extensive practice area with a putting green and driving range.

"I have really enjoyed living here. It is a really special place which has allowed me to relax and unwind -- when I get time," McIlroy was quoted in the house’s sales brochure. "With the privacy and seclusion of the location it is hard to believe the house is only 25 minutes from Belfast city centre and City airport.

"The space the house offers is bright and airy and there are views over the gardens and the pond from most rooms. The house has always been busy with friends and family and has suited us on all occasions."

McIlroy has said little about his future plans, but has been renting a house in Florida. His parents still live in his hometown of Holywood, Northern Ireland.