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8:15AM

Newsday (N.Y.): Whistling Straits: Links course that isn't

By Art Spander
Special to Newsday


SHEBOYGAN, Wis. -- With money one can do almost anything, including turning a shoreline along Lake Michigan into a bit of British links land.

Herb Kohler, 71, the plumbing fixtures magnate whose net worth is estimated at $4 billion and who became a golfer late in life, became enamored with the links courses in Scotland and England, several of which are used as venues for the British Open.

So he hired architect Pete Dye, purchased Camp Haven -- a former airfield used as an anti-aircraft center -- and with 17,000 dump-truck loads of quarried sand built mounds, dunes and traps. Voila, Whistling Straits, where for a second time, starting today, the PGA Championship will be held.

The course plays at more than 7,500 yards and is full of wild grass and dangerous slopes. When the 2004 PGA, won in a playoff by Vijay Singh, was held at the Straits, dozens of spectators suffered bruises and broken bones slipping as they attempted to follow play.

It's no less challenging for the golfers, although for the most part they walk along level but twisting fairways.

"I think it's fun,'' Phil Mickelson said of Whistling Straits. "What's interesting to me is that it's a Scottish-looking course that plays like an American course. It doesn't play like a course in Scotland, yet it has all the aesthetics of one.

"And so that actually takes a little bit getting used to, the fact you see fescues and the sand and the dunes and the pot bunkers and so forth. You think there are openings in front and think you can fun balls up. It just doesn't work. The ground is too soft, and the ball stops, so you have to fly the balls onto the greens. That takes getting used to, especially when we're just coming from the British Open.''

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http://www.newsday.com/sports/golf/whistling-straits-links-course-that-isn-t-1.2201455
Copyright © 2010 Newsday. All rights reserv
8:04AM

Newsday (N.Y.): PGA Championship is filled with question marks

By Art Spander
Special to Newsday


SHEBOYGAN, Wis. -- So golf faces the famous cliché used when people in sports don't have a clue what may happen next, to wit, "Now what?''

The 92nd PGA Championship starts today at Whistling Straits, along the western shore of Lake Michigan, an hour's drive from Milwaukee, and at a huge 7,514 yards a place where big drives are needed from the tees.

It's a major championship, the final one every year, but this year with the decline of Tiger Woods and rise of internationals such as Graeme McDowell, Louis Oosthuizen and Rory McIlroy, it is shadowed by that question, "Now what?''

Is the game in trouble because television ratings, negatively affected by Tiger's troubles and victories by previously unheralded players, have plummeted?

Is there an American capable of winning, or as in three of the last four majors, starting with Y.E. Yang stunning Woods the final day of the 2009 PGA, does the trophy end up in the hands of someone from Korea, Northern Ireland, South Africa or another country?

Is U.S. Ryder Cup captain Corey Pavin being candid when he says, as he did Wednesday, there was no certainty Woods would be on the team. The Golf Channel's Jim Gray, who reported Pavin told him "of course'' Woods be selected, challenged Pavin, stuck a finger in his chest, called him a liar and growled, "You're going down.''

For sure, this is the first time in 13 years a major is being held with Woods in the field and he is not the prohibitive favorite.

After the worst four-round event of his pro career -- the WGC-Bridgestone that ended Sunday with Woods tied for 78th among 80 players -- Tiger is second behind Phil Mickelson in the odds.

Yet Mickelson, who said he is recovering from psoriatic arthritis, also played poorly in the Bridgestone; Lee Westwood, third in the world rankings behind Woods and Mickelson, has withdrawn because of a calf injury; and as far as McDowell, the U.S Open winner, and Oosthuizen, British Open champ, it's rare to win two majors in a calendar year, unless you're Woods or Padraig Harrington.

Steve Stricker, a Wisconsin native, is No. 4 in the world, and said: "You always think you can win a tournament, going into a tournament.'' But he never has won a major.

Pavin won the 1995 U.S. Open at Shinnecock Hills. He went to UCLA and was called, in a nickname borrowed from one of the school's Rose Bowl teams, "The Gutty Little Bruin.'' After a contentious news conference involving him and European Ryder captain Colin Montgomerie, he needed the courage.

Gray, emboldened by a Golf Channel statement supporting his report, approached Pavin and wife Lisa, who claims she recorded the exchange on her cell phone.

At one point Gray, who years ago had a memorable faceoff with Pete Rose about Rose's gambling, raised his hand to keep Lisa from intervening. Pavin pushed it away.

After the exchange, Pavin again insisted he never told Gray that Woods was assured of a spot on the team for the Oct. 1-3 matches in Wales. Gray defended his report and said Pavin was being "disingenuous.''

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http://www.newsday.com/sports/golf/pga-championship-is-filled-with-question-marks-1.2201440
Copyright © 2010 Newsday. All rights reserved.
10:09PM

Newsday (N.Y.): Mickelson receiving treatment for form of arthritis

By Art Spander
Special to Newsday


SHEBOYGAN, Wis. -- Phil Mickelson has been receiving treatment for psoriatic arthritis, a form of the disease in which the person also has psoriasis of the skin.

Mickelson, ranked No. 2 in the World Golf Rankings, revealed his ailment Tuesday after a practice round for the 92nd PGA Championship.

"It's probably going to get out,'' said Mickelson, "so I want to clear it up. About five days before the U.S. Open [in early June] I woke up, and I had some intense pain in some areas of my body, some joints and tendons and so forth; so much so, that I couldn't walk. And it progressively got worse.''

Mickelson, 40, visited a doctor and then after last month's British Open went to the Mayo Clinic. He began treatment and said "things have been great the last couple of weeks, and I've been able to practice full-bore, I guess, starting last Monday. It's been only about a week now.''

He had a chance to overtake Tiger Woods at No. 1 in the rankings last weekend at the WGC-Bridgestone, but Mickelson shot a final-round 78 and tied for 46th.

"I hadn't able to work out the last seven weeks,'' said Mickelson of his physical routine. "Last week I was able to start working out. I'm about 80 percent of the weight I was before, so things look good. And I've been able to put in some longer workdays practicing here this week.''

Mickelson won the Masters in April, his fourth major, then was erratic in both the U.S. and British Opens, although he tied Woods for fourth in the U.S. at Pebble Beach.

"I didn't play well at the British,'' said Mickelson, "or last week, but I believe the game's coming around."

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http://www.newsday.com/sports/golf/mickelson-receiving-treatment-for-form-of-arthritis-1.2197256
Copyright © 2010 Newsday. All rights reserved.
9:22AM

Global Golf Post: Pebble Beach Revealed as Beauty AND Beast

By Art Spander
For GlobalGolfPost.com


PEBBLE BEACH, CALIFORNIA -- It's a near-lethal combination, the U.S. Open and Pebble Beach, a tournament which can ruin your mind and wrench your wrists, and a course where the sun rarely shines and the putts hardly fall.

Read the full story here.

Copyright 2010 Global Golf Post
9:10AM

SF Examiner: McDowell the last man standing

By Art Spander
Special to The Examiner


PEBBLE BEACH — The winner, of course, was the course, Pebble Beach. Graeme McDowell was the champion, the guy who finished first, but it was Pebble — tough, mystical Pebble — that proved the winner.

Read the full story here.

Copyright 2010 SF Newspaper Company