PITTSFORD, N.Y. (AP) — PGA of America president Ted Bishop recalls a Ryder Cup practice round with Phil Mickelson and Rickie Fowler three years ago when the conversation turned to the best courses for the matches in America.
It wasn’t long before Bethpage Black was mentioned.
“Phil said, ‘Would that not be the best to have the Ryder Cup at Bethpage Black?’” Bishop said last week at the PGA Championship.
Turns out the PGA was way ahead of him.
“Bethpage Black is very much on our radar screen,” Bishop said. “The PGA is highly interested in having a Ryder Cup and a PGA Championship there. We feel it’s a golf course that’s worthy of both. We’ve been interested in Bethpage going back to 2009.”
Two of Mickelson’s record six runner-up finishes in the U.S. Open were at the public course on Long Island, but it wasn’t just about him. The 2002 U.S. Open, in which Tiger Woods outlasted Mickelson on the back nine, was among the most raucous. The rain at the 2009 U.S. Open only slightly dampened the volume.
New York is the biggest market in the U.S. and has plenty of connections with Europe. From an operations standpoint, there is ample space in the state park for hospitality and other structures that have turned the Ryder Cup into the biggest show in golf.
The PGA of America was founded in New York in 1916 and has an office there. It last year hired Pete Bevacqua as its chief executive. Bevacqua not only has strong New York ties, he was the USGA’s chief business officer when the U.S. Open was last held at Bethpage Black.
“We’ve had a great relationship with the state of New York, and it’s escalated this week,” Bishop said at Oak Hill. “New York is the greatest sports city in America, and the Ryder Cup is the greatest event in golf.”
Bethpage Black most recently hosted The Barclays last year, and it is scheduled to return in 2016.
The Ryder Cup is going to Scotland in 2014, Hazeltine in 2016, France in 2018 and Whistling Straits in 2020. The next available date for Bethpage Black would be 2024. The next open venue for the PGA Championship is 2019.
Asked if the PGA of America was close to a deal with Bethpage Black, Bishop smiled and said, “Very close.”
END OF THE LINE: The Wyndham Championship is not just a last chance to get into the FedEx Cup playoffs.
It’s a last chance to keep a PGA Tour card.
Because of the short year ahead of the wraparound 2013-14 season that starts in October, the top 125 in the FedEx Cup and the top 125 on the PGA Tour money list will keep their cards of the new season.
That’s good news for Nicolas Colsaerts and Padraig Harrington. Both are outside the top 125 in the FedEx Cup (Colsaerts at No. 127, Harrington at No. 129) but are well within 125 on the money list. Harrington’s exempt status from winning two majors in 2008 runs out this year.
Steve Bowditch is No. 125 in the FedEx Cup. Even if he gets bumped, at No. 114 his playing card is set for the 2013-14 season.
Peter Hanson of Sweden, who withdrew from the British Open with a back injury, returned to have two important weeks. He tied for 33rd and earned $68,000 at Firestone, and then closed with a 68 at Oak Hill and tied for 33rd at the PGA Championship to earn just over $38,000. He now is at No. 121 on the money list, and should at least keep his card for next season.
HERE’S GREG?: Johnny Miller has one more year to call the U.S. Open before the USGA starts its new 12-year television contract with Fox Sports.
Golf Digest says the man replacing him could be another two-time major champion — Greg Norman.
Norman told the magazine’s website that he already has been offered the lead analyst job when Fox broadcasts the U.S. Open in 2015 at Chambers Bay. The Shark said in an email to golfdigest.com that Hill “has reached out to me, we have spoken and yes, they have offered me the job.”
He said he looked forward to having discussions with Hill, whom he described as a good friend. Hill, senior vice president for News Corp., ran Fox Sports Media Group before managing “American Idol” and “X Factor.”
Norman and Fox were involved in an attempt 20 years ago to start a world tour. The PGA Tour fought it and rallied players to its side, and the World Golf Championships series began about five years later.
If he gets the job, viewers might not be spared stories about a 63 in a major. Norman did it twice. Just never in a final round. Not in the U.S. Open. And not at Oakmont.
MAJOR PERFORMANCE: Adam Scott and Jason Day tied for lowest aggregate scores in the majors this year at a combined 2-over par.
The tiebreaker is easy — Scott won the Masters, Day hasn’t won a major (he has only one PGA Tour event).
Scott and Day were among 13 players who made the cut in all four majors this year. The others were Tiger Woods, Brandt Snedeker, Sergio Garcia, Matt Kuchar, Lee Westwood, Dustin Johnson, Henrik Stenson, Jason Dufner, Martin Kaymer, K.J. Choi and Phil Mickelson.
Scott, Dufner and Woods were the only players to make the cut in all four majors for 2012 and 2013. Scott has the longest active streak in making cuts at the majors at 10, dating to the 2011 U.S. Open at Congressional.
The flip side was Hiroyuki Fujita of Japan, who had the wrong kind of Grand Slam. He was the only player to miss the cut in all four majors this year.
And the most underrated performance?
That would go to Hideki Matsuyama, who this week rose to No. 29 in the world. Matsuyama made the cut both times he played the Masters as a teenage amateur (two-time Asia Pacific Amateur champion). He didn’t make it to Augusta this year, but did quite nicely in the rest of the majors. He tied for 10th in the U.S. Open, tied for sixth in the British Open and tied for 19th in the PGA Championship.
“I played far better than my expectations, but I have a lot of work to do and a lot of things I’ve got to practice and make my game a little stronger to be able to compete,” Matsuyama said Sunday at Oak Hill.
DIVOTS: The PGA Tour has hired Greg Gilligan as the managing director of its affiliate in China to help with the tour’s relationships and business development. Gilligan, a former McDonald’s executive in China, speaks fluent Mandarin Chinese and is chairman of the American Chamber of Commerce in China. … The Solheim Cup is missing five of the top 10 players are the LPGA Tour money list. Four of them are from South Korea, the other is Karrie Webb of Australia. … Tiger Woods earned $676,623 from the four majors this year, his smallest amount in 10 years.
STAT OF THE WEEK: In the last five years, only four players with at least a share of the 54-hole lead in the majors went on to win — Rory McIlroy (2012 PGA, 2011 U.S. Open), Darren Clarke (2011 British Open), Louis Oosthuizen (2010 British Open).
FINAL WORD: “With the standard there is and the competition there is now? No.” — Colin Montgomerie, when asked if Tiger Woods will break Jack Nicklaus’ record of 18 professional majors.