Monthly Archives: May 2018

World Golf Hall of Famer Doug Ford, golf’s oldest major champion, passes at age 95

World Golf Hall of Famer Doug Ford Sr., the oldest living major champion and one of golf’s most durable competitors, died Monday evening in Palm Beach Gardens Medical Center. Ford, who had suffered a pair of strokes over the past year, was 95. Born Douglas Michael Ford on Aug. 6, 1922, in West Haven, Connecticut, he was the son of a PGA Professional and had three uncles who also became PGA Members. Doug Ford captured the 1955 PGA Championship, winning in his first attempt when the event was conducted as match play. Ford went on to win the 1957 Masters, become PGA Player of the Year that season and play on four U.S. Ryder Cup Teams. “We are saddened to learn of the passing of Doug Ford, a champion who bridged the transformation of our PGA Championship from the match-play to stroke-play eras to become an honored member of the PGA family. He was rightfully enshrined forever as a member of the World Golf Hall of Fame,” said PGA of America President Paul Levy. “Our heartfelt thoughts and prayers are with his son, PGA Member Doug Jr., and his family.” Ford was one of nine PGA Champions who were sons of a PGA Member. Ford’s father, Mike, was his only golf coach. “I only went to my Dad for help when I was having a problem,” Ford said in 2017. “I never took a lesson from anyone else. He knew my swing so well.” During World War II, Ford served in the U.S. Coast Guard Air Division. He turned professional in 1949 and won for the first time in 1952, at the Jacksonville Open. It would be one of his 19 career professional victories. Ford’s first major triumph, the 1955 PGA Championship, came at Meadowbrook Country Club in Northville, Michigan. He was the 36-hole qualifying medalist, the last to do that and win a Championship. On his way to the finals, Ford rallied to defeat Ted Kroll, 2 and 1; and followed with his rout of Wally Ulrich, 12 and 10, in the third round. “Wally and I were friends,” said Ford, confirming they remained that way after the match. “I had a lot of confidence that week.” In the 36-hole final against Cary Middlecoff, Ford halved the morning 17th hole by making a downhill 10-foot birdie putt to remain one hole down. In the afternoon, Ford used some unique gamesmanship. His son, Doug Jr., then 10 years old, carried a chair that Ford used judiciously for rest while waiting for Middlecoff to play. “In those days, there were no gallery ropes keeping you back. Marshals rolled them up until the players and caddies arrived at their balls,” said Doug Jr. “I had a small folding chair that my dad used. It really showed up as we reached the back nine in the afternoon. My dad got stronger.” Ford pulled ahead for good in the match on the 26th hole and built a two-hole advantage by the time the twosome arrived at the 32rd hole, a long par-4. Doug Jr. recalled that “there were thousands of fans following, and they were getting on Middlecoff about his pace of play.” Ford was closer in two to the hole than Middlecoff was in three. When the pair arrived at the green, Middlecoff lit a cigarette, and didn’t putt until the whole cigarette was gone. It didn’t faze Ford, who won the hole. Two holes later, he closed out Middlecoff, 4 and 3. A few hours after the Championship, Ford and his family jumped into the family Lincoln that also pulled a trailer and arrived at Akron, Ohio the next morning. Few believed that Ford would play that week, but he ended up losing a playoff in the Rubber City Open. A week later, Ford won the All-America Championship in Niles, Illinois, and finished those three straight weeks of play by earning $9,886.67. “It didn’t dawn on me that it (the PGA Championship) was a major,” recalled Ford, as golf’s modern Grand Slam wouldn’t be popularized until 1960. “I wasn’t looking for majors; I was looking for money.” Ford received a parade back home in Yonkers, New York, where his father was PGA Head Professional at Putnam Country Club. He also had three uncles who were golf professionals. Despite the struggle Tour professionals faced to earn a representative take-home purse, Ford won 19 times in the 1950s, including 14 on the PGA Tour. He closed out the 1957 Masters by holing out for birdie from a plugged lie in the bunker on the 18th hole, capping a rally to beat Sam Snead by three strokes. The last of his PGA Tour wins was the 1963 Canadian Open. Ford was a member of Ryder Cup teams in 1955, ’57, ’59, and ’61. He was inducted into the Connecticut Golf Hall of Fame in 1972; the National Italian American Sports Hall of Fame (1992) and the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2011. Ford once said that as long as he was able to swing a club, he would find a way to the course. In 2016, he attended the Champions Dinner at The Masters, and a couple days earlier got the chance to play Augusta National Golf Club one last time. He was accompanied by one of his longtime friends, 1968 Masters Champion Bob Goalby. Ford returned to Augusta National for the last time in 2017, attending the Champions Dinner. His health had been in decline, yet he made the trip. “My dad was not only a great player, he was a great man,” said Doug Jr. “He was from the Greatest Generation.”

Whitehouse, CNU Women’s Golf Run Away with Inaugural CAC Women’s Golf Championship

In the first ever Capital Athletic Conference Women’s Golf Championship, the Christopher Newport Captains overwhelmed the competition, placing all five starters in the top six on the leaderboard to capture the first conference title ever awarded in women’s golf. Rookie Erica Whitehouse (+4) ran away with the individual medalist honors to lead the way for CNU, who captured the team title by 141 strokes over second-place York (Pa.). The league championship featured three first-year programs competing for the conference title on the Palmer Course at the Bay Creek Resort in Cape Charles, Va. A 54-hole event, the Captains fired a three-day 993 (326-345-322), good for 129-over Par. York finished in 1134 strokes (381-377-376) at +270 and Southern Virginia University finished in 1311 (440-431-440) for a +447 score. The Captains historic win came courtesy of the program’s lowest single round of the year, scoring a 34-over 322, one stroke better than the previous mark set at the Jekyll Island Women’s Collegiate. In addition to the team’s record-breaking performance, Whitehouse also put together the finest individual performance in the young history of the program. With back-to-back 73’s in the first two rounds, the freshman set a new CNU scoring record, while adding a 74 on the final day, good for the third best score of the year. Whitehouse (+4) won the individual championship with a 220 (73-73-74) in a dominating performance. The Mechanicsville, Va. native led the event in Par 3, Par 4, and Par 5 scoring, while also leading the 14-player field in pars and birdies. On the long holes, Whitehouse was two-under with an average score of 4.83, six strokes better than the next player on the chart. In Saturday’s final round, Whitehouse made the turn at Even par with one double-bogey paired with back-to-back birdies on five and six. On the back nine, she had four bogeys, two more birdies, and three pars. Over the three-day tournament, she had just one double bogey per round with 12 total birdies and 29 pars. CNU was nearly perfect as a team, placing all five starters in the top six finishers. Behind Whitehouse was runner-up Cameron Cook (+30), third-place Katie Thome (+35), fifth place Abbey Forde (+63), and sixth-place finisher Harper Lurie (+65). Cameron Cook scored a career-low 77 in the final round and was particularly impressive on the front nine Saturday morning. She finished the first nine holes in just 34 strokes, carrying a two-under score into the turn. She birdied three holes and bogeyed just one with five pars on the front nine. Cook finished the 54-hole event in 246 strokes (82-87-77). Katie Thome wrapped up a consistent appearance at the CAC Championship with a 251 (84-84-83). Abbey Forde scored on the final day with a 16-over 88, also establishing a new personal scoring low. Forde finished in 5th place with a 279 (89-102-88). Finally, Harper Lurie closed out a sixth-place finish with a 281 (87-101-93). Christopher Newport now has two wins and two runner-up finishes in the first year of the program. Heading into the postseason tournament, the Captains were ranked 50th in the GolfStat Relative Rankings, while Whitehouse was ranked in the top 50 individually with a 78.50 stroke average. After this weekend’s tournament, Whitehouse improved her season stroke average to 77.8, which would rank her in the top 30 nationally based on the most recent statistical update.

Stephen Curry in talks to host PGA Tour event in 2019

It’s no secret that Stephen Curry loves golf. The Golden State Warriors star played respectably at a Tour event last fall, shooting 74-74, but failing to make the cut. Now, Curry is in talks to host a PGA Tour event of his own, according to ESPN. The tournament would be played in the fall of 2019, and ESPN notes that of the three domestic fall events on the PGA Tour’s schedule, only one is near Curry’s home in the Bay Area: The Safeway Open. That tournament — located at the Silverado Resort and Spa in Napa Valley — will be played from October 1-7 this year, and is being sponsored by Chevron. The PGA Tour did acknowledge that they were in talks with Curry’s team. “There’s no doubt Stephen Curry brings a young, new, diverse audience to the PGA Tour through his passion for this great game and support for the community,” PGA Tour spokeswoman Laura Neal said to ESPN. “We’re excited about the prospect of partnering with an iconic athlete of his caliber in the future.”

93-year-old gets first hole-in-one in his final round of golf ever

Never give up on your dreams. After nearly 70 years of playing golf, a 93-year-old Ohio man got his first-ever hole-in-one in April, according to the Zanesville Times Recorder. The shot came on the 152-yard third hole at Green Valley Golf Course in Zanesville, where Ben Bender teed off with a 5-wood. When we reached out to the course, an employee said that while they usually get five or six aces in a year, most come on hole No. 16, a 73-yard Par 3. Here’s what the third hole — where Bender notched his ace — looks like: The 93-year-old has hip bursitis, and after basking in the glory of his hole-in-one, his hip started to bother him, forcing him to call it a day afer just a couple more holes. He decided it would be his last round of golf ever. Not a bad one to go out on. “I’d come close to some hole-in-ones, but this one was level on the green before it curved towards the hole and went in,” Bender said to the Times Recorder. “I was in awe watching it. I played a few more holes, but my hips were hurting and I had to stop. It seemed the Lord knew this was my last round so he gave me a hole-in-one.” Bender apparently started playing golf when he was 28, after he bought clubs and a bag for from the manager of a shoeshine shop for just $50. When living in Florida, Bender began playing six days a week, slowly working down to a 3-handicap. “I was lucky to play golf this long, but I never expected (a hole-in-one),” he said to the Times Recorder. “It was the last time I was able to play, and I think God had a hand in this. I loved the game and hate to give it up, but I can’t play forever.”


For Bethune Cookman University, it was yet another impressive example of a dynasty in cruise control at the 32nd PGA Minority Collegiate Championship at PGA Golf Club. The Wildcats captured a record seventh-straight—and 15th overall—Women’s crown in collegiate golf’s most culturally significant Championship. Meanwhile, the Men’s team notched their third-consecutive PGA Minority Collegiate Championship and 10th title overall. The teams from Daytona Beach rocketed right out of the gate and never let off the throttle throughout the 54 holes of competition. Paced by medalist Mackenzie Butzer who had a final round 1-under par 71 (70-75-71 216), the Bethune Cookman Women (297-307-299 903) defeated runner-up University of the Incarnate Word by 27 strokes on the Ryder Course. North Carolina A&T finished third, another seven strokes back. “This is overwhelming,” said Butzer. “This is my last year, and I gave it all I had. I had fun and played easy. Everything seemed to be clicking.” MORE: Final results from the 2018 PGA Minority Collegiate Championship Meanwhile, the Bethune Cookman men (286-282-286 854) shot 10-under par for the Championship, winning by an amazing 57 strokes over Savannah State on the Wanamaker Course. The University of Incarnate Word placed third. For Bethune Cookman, it was a three-day showcase of utmost command. After closing out the Championship on No. 18, the women’s team sprayed the men’s team with a water bottle shower that would have rivaled a dramatic victory celebration. “It was so fun to see our student athletes end the season like this,” said Bethune Cookman Head Coach Danny Forshey. The Bethune Cookman Men were led by medalist Marcus Sundlof, of Sweden (65-70-71 206), who bested his teammate Christian Hovstadius for the honor by seven strokes. “It feels great,” said Sundlof, a sophomore who overcame a wrist injury at the beginning of the year. “We had a lot of team wins, but I wasn’t playing well personally. It’s great to finish off the year this way.” A history of excellence in the Championship was the overall theme for each team division winner. Division II was won by California State University-Dominguez Hills for the third time in the past four years, as the Toros recorded a 15-shot victory over Lincoln University. Virginia Union’s Sergio Escalante took Division II Medalist honors with a 54-hole Championship total of 220. “This tournament is always challenging,” said Toros Head Coach Ron Eastman. “The rankings don’t matter, because everyone plays from the heart.” Despite starting its golf program eight years ago, the University of Houston-Victoria won its third-straight NAIA title—and a Division record fourth overall—by defeating runner-up Governors State by 12 strokes. The two teams started the day four strokes apart, before Houston-Victoria pulled away. Governors State’s Matt Contey was NAIA medalist with a three-day total of 222. MORE: Photos from the 2018 PGA Minority Collegiate Championship “It was tough competition,” said Houston-Victoria Head Coach Christi Cano. “We had to grind it out for our victory today.” For the second straight year, the Men’s Individual title was won by the University of Connecticut’s Nabeel Kahn, who overcame a rusty start to the Championship for a 2-under par final round 70 (75-70-70 215) to win by 12 strokes over both Palm Beach Atlantic’s Siyan Liu and West Florida’s Joseph Stills. “Any win is a good feeling,” said Khan. “I started rough on the first day. It wasn’t like an outright win. It was grit.” The Women’s Individual prize was earned by St. John’s (N.Y.) University sophomore Linda Wang (72-73-73 218), who defeated runner-up Rachelle Orme of Savannah State by nine strokes. In a weather-related quirk designed to get ahead of the heavy rains forecasted to arrive from Mother Nature on Mother’s Day, the final round actually began on Saturday, as the teams played 27 holes overall, including the first nine holes of the Championship’s final stanza. The final nine holes were completed on Sunday morning in slightly rainy and muggy conditions. The PGA Minority Collegiate Championship is the most culturally significant championship in collegiate golf. In 2006, the PGA of America was granted complete ownership and management by the National Minority Collegiate Golf Scholarship Fund.