Archives for June 2012

Dramatic putt lands Miller in U.S. Open with three other PGA Professionals

PGA Professionals Dennis Miller of Mineral Ridge, Ohio, Brian Gaffney of Rumson, N.J., Mark McCormick of Middletown, N.J., and Tim Weinhart of Johns Creek, Ga., completed respective career-long journeys Monday to earn their first berths in the U.S. Open Championship.

It was Miller, a 42-year-old PGA director of golf at Mill Creek Golf Course in Canfield, Ohio, who stole the headlines just before dusk in Columbus.

The third alternate prior to the Sectional Qualifying Tournament at the difficult Scioto Country Club’s Scarlet Course, Miller got into the 132-player field just after 6 a.m., and without benefit of a practice round, posted rounds of 71 and 70 to land in a four-way playoff for the remaining three Open berths.

Reaching the fourth playoff hole, the par-4 18th, Miller hit a 9-iron approach to the back fringe about 20 feet above the hole. His birdie putt, which he said broke about “1 1/2 cups to the right,” creased the right edge of the hole. Miller turned away in disgust. As he did, the ball fell into the hole.

“You could not have scripted what happened,” said Miller, who completed his 12th attempt to land an Open berth. “It was just amazing. I have never played the Scarlet Course before, but I can say that my last round was one of the best rounds I have ever played. I saw that there was green grass before my ball and the hole. It must have been a gust of wind, or someone up above had something to do with it.”

Miller punched his ticket to the Open, June 14-17, at The Olympic Club in San Francisco, which last hosted the major championship in 1998. That was the same year that Miller began his Open qualifying quest.

To make Miller’s Open journey more improbable was his completing 63 holes through Local and Sectional play to seal an Open berth. He had lost a five-hole playoff in a Local Qualifying Tournament in May at Beechmont Country Club near Cleveland. The USGA informed Miller that he could arrive in Columbus by 6 a.m. Monday, and wait by the tee to learn if any other contestant would withdraw. Seven players, including Miller, were able to get into the Columbus Sectional field.

“Before I left home Monday morning, I decided to put my old putter, a 25-year-old Maxfli Tad Moore into my bag,” said Miller. “I won the 1996 Ohio Open with that putter. I won’t be without it from here on.”

BRIAN GAFFNEY, a 41-year-old PGA head professional at Rumson (N.J.) Country Club, posted rounds of 68 and 70 at Canoe Brook Country Club in Summit, N.J., earning one of four Open berths among a field of 73.

“I’m thrilled,” said Gaffney, who first began his Open qualifying hunt in 1997. “I did not know where I stood until the 14th hole of the final round, and I three-putted the 14th green. I shook all the nerves and excitement out on the 15th tee and relaxed on the way in.” Gaffney said the key for him was making a 12-foot birdie putt on the 17th green.

MARK MCCORMICK, a 49-year-old PGA head professional at Suburban Golf Club in Union, N.J., posted rounds of 67 and 71 at Canoe Brook Country Club to join Gaffney in grabbing one of the four Open berths.

“I figured that this was going to be my last chance,” said McCormick, who made his 25th career qualifying attempt and fifth appearance in a Sectional.

McCormick was joined in the field at Canoe Brook by his older son, Ryan, a 20-year-old member of the St. John’s University men’s golf team. Ryan finished with rounds of 74 and 72.

“It was pretty fun to share the experience with him,” said Mark. “My turning point came on the 14th hole of the second round, a 225-yard, par-3. I hit a 19-degree hybrid to one foot. That got me to 4-under for the day, and I felt that was the number.”

TIM WEINHART, a 42-year-old PGA assistant professional at the Nuclear Golf Academy at The Standard Club in Duluth, Ga., did not speak to anyone after finishing his 36 holes with rounds of 69 and 68 at the Sectional at The River Club in Suwanee, Ga.

“I had been through this too many times, going back to when I was about 17 years old, and being disappointed about so many other near-misses,” said Weinhart, who was one of 53 players Tuesday battling for three Open spots. “It wasn’t till about 9 o’clock, in the dark, that I was able to confirm that I was in.”

Weinhart’s trademark strength, his wedge play, was surpassed Monday by his ball striking ability and a solid putting performance. He began his final nine holes making a difficult pitch to within one foot to save par.

“I felt good from that point all the way in,” said Weinhart. “If there was one putt that sealed it, it was a 15-footer at 14 for birdie. I hit the cup about six or seven times coming home. It is a tremendous feeling. Now I have to work with the family on travel arrangements in order that we may enjoy what comes next.”

The final U.S. Open Sectional Tournament to be completed, in Memphis, Tenn., was postponed until Tuesday due to rain.

Golfers move up, have more fun Teeing it Forward

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. (June 1, 2012) — More and more golfers are expected to tee it forward and have more fun while playing golf this summer thanks to the support of The PGA of America (PGA) and United States Golf Association (USGA). Initially introduced for a two-week period in 2011, TEE IT FORWARD, which encourages golfers to have more fun by playing from tees that better align with their ability, is now a year-round initiative with a special focus in June.

During the month, more than 2,400 registered facilities around the country will be actively promoting playing from new tees and hosting special events designed to encourage golfers to play from shorter distances. Participating facilities and more information can be found at PlayGolfAmerica.com/TEEITFORWARD.

Do you wish your approach shot to the green was just a bit easier? Would you rather hit an iron into the green vs. a fairway wood or hybrid? If you want to play faster and have more fun, move up a set of tees and TEE IT FORWARD!

“TEE IT FORWARD addresses many of the issues that impact the game of golf. By having golfers tee off from the appropriate teeing areas, they will have more fun and play faster,” said USGA President Glen Nager. “While we have promotional activities around this effort during June, we would like to see all golfers tee it forward throughout the year. It’s a great way to play the game.”

Discussion on the topic of TEE IT FORWARD continues to be so prevalent that The PGA and USGA have created a sweepstakes for those who share their comments after teeing it forward. Between now and July 31, 2012, golfers can go to PlayGolfAmerica.com/TEEITFORWARD to post their comments and be entered for a chance to win the grand prize of two weekly grounds tickets for the 2012 Ryder Cup at Medinah Country Club. First runner-up receives two tickets to the 2013 U.S. Open at Merion Golf Club and second runner-up wins two tickets to the 2013 PGA Championship at Oak Hill Country Club.

“With TEE IT FORWARD, our PGA Professionals are simply asking golfers to move to the appropriate tee box so they have an opportunity to hit shorter irons into the greens,” said PGA President Allen Wronowski. “Golf can be much more fun when you are hitting 7-irons, instead of less-lofted irons and woods.”

In addition to sharing comments on the Play Golf America website, The PGA and USGA are also asking golfers to tweet about their TEE IT FORWARD experiences (#teeitforward) through a special Twitter page, twitter.TEEITFORWARD.org.

During the 2011 two-week promotion, more than 1,900 golf courses had an average of 123 golfers per facility (nearly 237,000 nationwide) playing from forward tees. A survey of more than 3,000 consumers who experienced the program showed that 70 percent found their round of golf more enjoyable and more than 90 percent said they would recommend TEE IT FORWARD to a friend. The survey also found nearly 50 percent of respondents believed the program helped them play faster.

Golf legend Jack Nicklaus, PGA TOUR player Dustin Johnson and LPGA Tour player Paula Creamer serve as spokespersons for TEE IT FORWARD.

About the USGA
The USGA conducts the U.S. Open, U.S. Women’s Open and U.S. Senior Open, as well as 10 national amateur championships, two state team championships and international matches. Together with The RA, the USGA governs the game worldwide, jointly administering the Rules of Golf, Rules of Amateur Status, Equipment Standards and World Amateur Golf Rankings. The USGA’s working jurisdiction comprises the United States, its territories and Mexico. The USGA is a global leader in the development and support of sustainable golf course management practices. It serves as a primary steward for the game’s history and funds an ongoing “For the Good of the Game” charitable giving program. Additionally, the USGA’s Course Rating and Handicap systems are used on six continents in more than 50 countries. For more information about the USGA, visit www.usga.org.

About The PGA of America
Since its founding in 1916, The PGA of America has maintained a twofold mission: to establish and elevate the standards of the profession and to grow interest and participation in the game of golf. By establishing and elevating the standards of the golf profession through world-class education, career services, marketing and research programs, The PGA enables its professionals to maximize their performance in their respective career paths and showcases them as experts in the game and in the multi-billion dollar golf industry. By creating and delivering world-class championships and innovative programs, The PGA of America elevates the public’s interest in the game, the desire to play more golf, and ensures accessibility to the game for everyone, everywhere. As The PGA nears its centennial, the PGA brand represents the very best in golf.